New Venue, New Time, Yet FMU Record Fair Packed With Vinyl Enthusiasts

Radio station FMU held its first Springtime Record Fair this past weekend at a new venue: The Brooklyn Expo Center. Despite the new, unfamiliar location and the warm weather date, the place was absolutely packed on Saturday, May 2nd.

The Fair was canceled a few years ago when Hurricane Sandy hit and the previous location flooded. I was told that the venue refused to refund FMU's security deposit and that's what led to the venue change. The new Brooklyn Expo Center is a far more spacious and better lit site, though parking was a problem and getting there via public transportation was difficult.

All of these issues plus a beautiful Spring day had many wondering if it would be a successful show. From what I saw it certainly was. By early afternoon dealer tables were difficult to get to and the aisles were clogged with a pleasingly mixed demographic. The days of a graying population of record enthusiasts is well over!

I ran into Atlantic Records Chairman/CEO Craig Kallman who is among the most intense and dedicated vinyl enthusiasts I know. "See this?", Kallman said pointing to the throngs, "this is your doing." Of course I immediately took issue with his pronouncement but it was flattering nonetheless.

If you were a wealthy collector, you could have attended this show and bought thousands of sought after records at the expected high asking prices but the fun for me is to find bargains and that's what I went there looking for.

At one table i found for $2.00 a copy of the first Modern Jazz Quartet album on Savoy (MG-12046). I love the MJQ but had never before seen the record. I removed it from the jacket and it was chewed up, but when I turned over the jacket I noticed it had been autographed by John Lewis, Milt Jackson and Percy Heath. Where these autographs genuine? For $2.00 I could afford to find out later! I bought the record figuring some day I'd find a clean copy and swap jackets.

About fifteen minutes later I found a clean copy. When I got home I did a web search and yes, the autographs were legitimate.

At one booth where records were $5.00 I found Creed Taylor Presents Know Your Jazz (ABC-Paramount 115), a record I'd never before seen, featuring solo tracks from Billy Taylor, Donald Byrd, Charlie Rouse, Oscar Pettiford, Kenny Clarke and others, each one improvisations demonstrating how the various instruments are used in jazz, with Taylor's annotation explaining each track. I also got there Bill Evans With Symphony Orchestra (Verve V6-8640), an oddball 1966 Evans album with his trio at that time (Chuck Israels on bass, Grady Tate on drums) backed by a Claus Ogerman orchestrated symphony orchestra playing a series of classical pieces plus two by Evans and one by Ogerman. It's a Creed Taylor production engineered and mastered by Rudy Van Gelder. This was the first record I cleaned and played when I got home and while it's not considered one of Evans's great records, I enjoyed the first play and look forward to more plays, preferably late at night.

I picked up three more $5.00 specials at that booth: Charlie Byrd a D2D Crystal Clear 45rpm release I always wanted, Gerry Mulligan's Something Borrowed, Something Blue (Limelight LS 86040), and The Sugar Man Stanley Turrentine ( CTI 6052 S1) a record I already owned but for $5.00 I couldn't turn down a second copy that looked unplayed. Pure Pleasure reissued this gem two years ago but the reissue doesn't sound quite as good as the original.

At the booth where I got the autographed MJQ record I also picked up for $5.00 a mint "6 eye" Columbia second pressing of Masterpieces by Ellington (that I'd seen at another booth for $150), and another record I'd always wanted, These Are My Roots, Clifford Jordan Plays Leadbelly (Atlantic SD 1444)—an unlikely pairing of Huddle Ledbetter classics ("Take This Hammer", "Black Betty", Good Night Irene", etc) played by a modern jazz group fronted by an edgy saxophonist. Crazy, but it worked!

At another booth I chanced for $5.00 a white label promo copy of Let It Be Written, Let it be Sung, Ellie Greenwich (Verve V6 5091). Greenwich wrote classics for Phil Spector including "And Then He Kissed Me", "River Deep, Mountain High", "Baby I Love You" as well as "Chapel of Love" performed by The Dixie Cups. They are all here with Greenwich backed by top studio musicians and engineered by Elliot Schooner at Phil Ramone's A&R Studios. So how bad could it be? (Answer: pretty bad!). But for $5.00 it made for an "interesting bad".

I also picked up for $10.00 a minty copy of After the Gold Rush though I don't know why since I have more than a few of those, as well as a mint original Open by Julie Driscoll/ Brian Auger and The Trinity (Atco SD 33-258)—a record I had but for some reason chucked years ago and regretted, and a minty original Fresh Cream on Atco (SD 33-206). That's all I bought. I have so many unplayed records here buying more made little sense. In fact buying those made little sense but, well you know......

Here's a video of the FMU Record Fair:

Bix's picture

Michael, were you able to find out why they couldn't return to last year's venue, the Armory? I really liked that place, and it wasn't much of a transportation downgrade compared to the Metropolitan Pavillion.

Also, are you 100% sure on the chain of events? They still ran the Pavillion for 2013 after Sandy. Or was that already booked before the deposit dispute, so last year's was the first booked after the dispute?

I wish I could've gone, but I usually go by train and Green Point from Long Beach requires a super-roundabout route. Oh well. Maybe I'll start going to the monthly Holiday Inn show.

Michael Fremer's picture
I didn't speak with anyone directly involved with the show. An exhibitor told me the Metropolitan Pavilion wouldn't return the deposit after the 2012 show was canceled but I'm not 100% sure about exactly what happened or why they didn't return to the Armory. From what I could see, I think they will be happy with this year's turnout.
AlanWK's picture

17,000 Yen perhaps? is J.D. Short on a cut? who was selling it Tom Port? even he thinks its too much.

Michael Fremer's picture
It was a seller who didn't wish to sell the record, but if someone offered that much he'd part with it. I didn't ask. A friend of mine got a mint one for around $6000. He said that was the "going rate" for a mint original.
essmeier's picture

$6000 would be a bargain for a truly mint copy. Since 2003, fifty copies of that record have changed hands on eBay for more than $6000, and not all of them were mint. Plus, eBay tends to be a buyer's market. That record has sold for a lot more outside of eBay.

"Fairly clean" copies turn up from time to time. Mint or very close to mint copies do not. Plus, the monos probably outnumber the stereos by a ratio of close to 100:1. Stereo pressings on that label are really rare, as Parlophone was known to press only 300-500 LPs from a single stamper, and only two different stamper variations are known on that LP, suggesting that only 600-1000 copies were ever pressed on that label in stereo.

I've heard a clean one; it's a pretty amazing record. Worth $17K? That's another question...

beaur's picture

While I am biased, as I live along the G train route, it's not that hard to get to the Expo Center via public transportation. From the LIRR go to Flatbush station and walk a block to the G. From Manhattan take the A/C, the L or the 7 and it's an easy transfer to the G. Once at the Greenpoint Ave stop walk towards the water,and make a left on Franklin, from Nassau Ave do same except right on Franklin.

Bonus' for coming via subway; several Polish meat markets within a block, get out at Nassau for some old school donuts, and walking you will pass several good restaurants for later, if you love good tea pay Belloq a visit on West St, you won't be disappointed, Ovenly is a great bakery on Greenpoint for that morning coffee and pastry.

Sorry I missed the show this year I was out of town.

pmatt's picture

If I divide 17,000 by 25 (the going rate for a record these days), I get 680. Then multiply by 500 (the going rate for a modest turntable these days), I get 340,000 -appropriate budget for my new turntable. Recommended wine pairing while listening - 2005 Domaine Romanee-Conti's Romanee-Conti - cost 11,000. I'd say the wine is a better deal, but you can only use it once!

OldschoolE's picture

Nice one! That Kreed Taylor record sounds really interesting. I like that sort of thing. I'll have to put that on my hunting list. $6000 for a Beatles record? I nearly choked when I read that! It's alright, to each their own with what they can afford, but holy cow! I hope he keeps it locked up at Fort Knox.
Yes, $17,000 for a record may keep even the deepest pockets from purchasing, but why bring it to the fair for sale anyway if one does not want to sell it? I'm confused.
I think I can guess why you picked up another copy of a Neil Young record...because it was minty, you know how hard it is to find a minty used Neil Young record. It's just under the probability of finding a minty used In-A-Gada-Da-Vida LP by Iron Butterfly. We call that Mission Impossible where I'm from.
Thanks for sharing your fun at the fair. :)

Jeff Miller's picture

Michael have you ever bought records for friends that asked you to buy for them and then compare them to your own. You then keep the one that is better for yourself. I am guilty and have done this in the past.

Jazzfan62's picture

I just came home from a visit to a local record store when I saw this post. I like ordering and receiving new vinyl from places like Acoustic sounds, but I could spend a whole day thumbing through used records. I purchased 11 mint used albums for just shy of 90 bucks.

Needed a serious hand washing after that, though. Not the place to go if you are a germaphobe, I imagine.

Pretzel Logic's picture

....gave me heart palpitations whenever I saw boxes labelled "jazz". Same thing happens when I attend conventions at home. I need help.

bassrome's picture

Were there many classical LPs?

OldschoolE's picture

I would imagine easily that there had to be because every record fair or show or swap has them in some quantity. They are also some of the best buys you can get as they usually go for less than $10, usually decent or better pressings and are usually near mint at least.

Kirby's picture

Good score on the MJQ,I once passed on a Mel Torme George Shearing lp signed by Mel. Well a few months later Mel was gone and so was the lp when I went back to get it.Snooze ya loose.

TommyTunes's picture

Now I'm PO'ed when I left Brooklyn 21 years ago, after living there for the first 40 years, there was one record shop renmaining,Zig Zag on Avenue U. Now you show me a record show the size of Home Depot! I showed the video to my friend and we definitely will make the trip next year.