Album of the Week: methodology and sources

This is a peek behind my writing process for #albumoftheweek, which means if you’re just interested in the albums you can safely skip it. But it occurred to me that it might be of interest to folks anyway.

The point of this feature is to go through the record albums that I own and tell stories about each one. That means that, inevitably, there are going to be albums that are highly worthy of being featured that won’t be, because I don’t own them on vinyl. So it goes. (Though sometimes I skip an album chronologically and then later pick up a copy… I’ll try to insert those into the sequence as I can.)

My original plan for the series was to just go alphabetically through my music, starting with jazz, by artist name, and then chronologically by recording date within an artist’s work. This is, not coincidentally, how I sort my media anyway. But when I hit Miles, it kind of upended that plan. For one thing, I love Miles but I wasn’t sure I wanted to write for four straight months about nothing but Miles albums. For another, as I told the stories about Miles’ first great quintet, I began to realize that the individual members of the group had story arcs of their own.

I now have a plan for at least the next five months worth of AOTW, based on the contents of my collection and some supplemental resources, primarily biographies and sessionographies. The sessionography might be my secret weapon, since it gives me the dates and places that the artist recorded—often including sideman gigs, live performances, and recordings for other labels that lend interesting flavor to the overall arc of the musician’s career. If you don’t mind spoilers, you can peek at the one I’m using for Miles.

Last, when the story about how I found the vinyl is interesting, I try to include it. That means I’m mostly skipping stories that go “I bought this contemporary re-pressing on Amazon, or from the Jazz Center Stage Store, or from Blue Note.” Though, when we get to the Blue Note sequence, there are certainly some interesting things to call out about the Tone Poet re-releases… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

And really last, I reserve the right to break the sequence at any time, so buckle up!