Where to Find Jazz Recordings

Red Octopus

Vienna’s Red Octopus draws a variety of different people | Photo: Ksenia Kuvaeva

A recent column was dedicated to the best places to hear live jazz in Vienna. This time it’s the best places to get our spiritual food: jazz recordings. Of course, I don’t pretend this list is exhaustive, much less impartial. Let’s say that you’ll simply find here some hints.

With the closing of the Virgin Megastore on Mariahilfer Straße a few years ago due to industry changes and high rental costs, Vienna’s recorded music scene was badly hit. The result can still be felt today: There is no longer any large comprehensive record store in Vienna comparable to Ludwig Beck in Munich, HMV in London or the FNAC in Paris.

Of course, it doesn’t mean that you can’t find decent record stores in Vienna. But gone are the days when you could get the latest Keith Jarrett, some indie rock and a recording of an obscure French composer of the Baroque period under the same roof, plus the latest Almodovar on DVD.

Viennese jazz fans can still count on a handful of stores though.

 

For years, Red Octopus (Josefstädter Straße 99, 8th district) has been the number one jazz-specialized store in Austria. Great selection, competent service, online shopping possible… who can ask for anything more? www.redoctopus.at

Audio Center (Judenplatz 9, 1st disctrict) has a good selection with lots of LPs, both new and second hand. Here too, the service is great. www.audiocenter.at

Rote Laterne (Riemergasse 11, next to Porgy and Bess, 1st district) is quite new and offers a good selection and knowledgeable staff, but its opening hours are, to put it mildly, weird! Check first before going:

www.rotelaterne.at

If you stick to mainstream and well-known artists (and forget about hard-to-find recordings from forgotten geniuses) and wish to save a few euros, the electronic chain store Saturn offers a decent selection, even though it used to be better. The one on Mariahilfer Straße (in the Gerngroß store) seems like the best one. I bought several old Blue Note recordings there for €5… but these deals don’t happen all the time!

EMI Austria on the Kärntner Straße used to have a decent jazz section (but pricey…), but recent changes have reduced the jazz section to the minimum. Perfect for Diana Krall, but overall, despite its promising name, disappointing. And still expensive.

 

Second-hand recordings hunting is fun, as record collectors will tell you. Why pay a fortune when great CDs and LPs are there to be obtained for a fraction of its original price? Vienna has several decent-to-good second-hand CD/LP stores. I can’t pretend to know them all, but here are some that I find interesting:

Fischer Music & Chronicle (Webgasse 41, 6th district). Big selection of rock, classical and jazz. Obviously, I’m not the only one who knows and appreciates this place since, on Saturday especially, it can get quite crowded. The selection changes regularly so make sure to go often and check it out.

Teuchtler (Windmühlgasse 10, 6th district), is a classic. Huge selection of LPs and CDs, mostly classical but their jazz section is quite good and their prices are reasonable.

I also have a weak spot for the Buchhandlung Volksoper  (Währinger Straße 65, 9th district), right in front of the Volksoper. The store may be small, but the music selection – especially for jazz and classic – is quite decent.

All these stores give the possibility to listen to the CDs before buying them, with individual players with headphones.

 

Second-hand record hunters also know that every three months, a weekend long ‘CD-Börse’ takes place in Vienna (and in turn, Linz, Graz, Salzburg, and Innsbruck). It’s actually a convention of second-hand CD and LP dealers from Austria and Germany. That’s certainly the place for jazz fans to go: from dirt cheap LPs to rare collector items, without forgetting old 78s, you won’t leave this place empty-handed. For schedule and location, check: www.sammeln.at/maerkte/plattenboerse

 

For the economizing fan, the Hauptbibliothek Wien (Urban Loritz Platz on the Gürtel, 7th district) offers a pretty good selection of jazz CD and DVD. There’s no cost for borrowing (but one has to be registered) and CDs can be kept for up to a month.

Finally, one internet address. While you’ve certainly heard of those trials against illegal music downloading, it’s also possible to legally get music on the net. iTunes, of course, is well known but for jazz fans, but eMusic.com is the place to go. Specialized in independent labels, eMusic has managed to gather an impressive catalog: Prestige, Riverside, Contemporary, Pablo, Concord, Black Saint, Soul Note, Justin Time… they’re all there! Well… almost!  And the price is very attractive: about 40 cents for each track (no matter its length) with a limit of 50 tracks per month. If you’re interested in getting some Miles Davis and John Coltrane recordings from the 50s, Bill Evans, Art Pepper, Chet Baker, David Murray, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald at an affordable price, look no further!

The CD industry might be in crisis, but we, jazz fans, still have long years ahead of us!

Next month: what Summer has to offer!

 

Musicologist Jean-Pascal Vachon teaches at Webster University Vienna and gives lectures on the history of music at various venues around the city. In addition, he also contributes texts and works as a translator for the Swedish classical label, BIS

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