Jazz Note:
Jewel Cases Redux
15 February 2018

We are reorganizing our Jazz CD library. There are at least 200 discs, plus many more in the frontier between “jazz” and “pop” and “the American Songbook.”

(“Pop,” needless to say, is not to be confused with rock ‘n’ roll, or country; it is much less demotic than either of those genres. When I think of pop, I think of Acker Bilk and “Stranger by the Shore.”)

A few years ago, I made a mistake. I treated jazz like any other genre in my library, and subjected it to the space-saving protocols that have enabled me to manage a vastly larger classical-music library in a small space. Sparing you the boring details, I’ll just say that getting rid of the jewel case is the first step in fitting my CDs, liner notes and so on into my slim spatial allowance. The result was less a library and more a vault. The CDs could molder in peace while I accessed the music from my computer, for iPod playlists. This worked just so well with serious music that it took years to discover how inapt it is for jazz. 

More than any other genre, jazz is recorded in albums. The tracks are laid out by professionals with a fine sense of balancing the loud against the soft, the thoughtful against the hectic, the busy against the straightforward. Jazz cuts are not intended to be listened to in random sequence, which works pretty well for pop and song and almost as well for rock. Random jazz will give you a terrible headache, but you won’t know why. Not for a while. 

Like everything else, my jazz was uploaded onto a massive iTunes library. It would have been easy to transfer iTunes albums into playlists and thence onto iPods, and in fact it was. The difficulty was this: it was hard to tell which albums to transfer. I don’t begin to know jazz (much less jazz albums as such) as well as I know classical music. For six years, I made a living deciding which symphony ought to follow which concerto. I can’t do that with jazz. With jazz, I have to have the CDs, in their jewel cases, in hand. 

So we have bought empty jewel cases — Kathleen found a good deal on eBay — and put the downsized jazz CDs into them. Whether we have the room to house this move remains to be seen, but at the moment there are only a few unseemly piles, mostly of displaced rock. 

Why we’re going to all this trouble will be explained next week. 

More anon.

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