Paradise Lost… and regained?

Paradise, as I’ve written before , is my own little nick name for the Bath area’s (and most folk seem to think the UK’s), only surviving dedicated jazz record shop. But there’s a bit of trouble in paradise. The slowing of the rate at which CD’s leap from the rack into punter’s bags (after the exchange of cash of course), a phenomenon started by online sales and accelerated by recession, combined with rising costs has placed sufficient pressure on the business to force a radical change. After this Saturday, no longer will there be a little room off an alley in Broad Street with a wide ranging stock of exclusively jazz, mainly CDs but a bit of vinyl if you’re that way inclined, staffed usually by owner John Turner and sometimes by local legend and jazz DJ Tony Clark. After this Saturday, no more excuses for lateness that run something like ‘I tarried too long in Paradise’ or rendezvous which go ‘meet me in paradise’ – always a questionable line unless used nearest and dearest or old friends. Yes, Paradise will be lost to us as Broad Street jazz re-locates. Only across the road, actually on Broad Street, but significantly sharing the shop space (and thus display for stock and air to breath) with the Bath classical CD business. What’s the fuss? The Business is still there, mail order and website is still there; no change?

Accurate as all that is, it is nevertheless worth marking the moment and recalling the hours (and pounds) spent in this unique little space. One bit of the magic was that Jon and Tony now, and founder of the business before he retired Mike Sage were so…… Knowledgable? well yes, but the patience and willingness to recommend, allow a bit of pre-purchase listening, and engage with the thrill of the chase – ‘have you got…?’ all meant it was a bit more than just a retail outlet. A fine player now, recently admitted to me that when starting out playing jazz and attending a workshop, used to pay a regular visit to the shop with a lead sheet in hand (say of Doxy or Green Dolphin Street) with a request not just for a recording of the tune, but in the specific key in which it was being played at the workshop. They never failed to oblige.

A Salute then to Mike Sage, founder; Jon Turner current owner and Tony Clark, a constant presence through both eras. And a cheer and best wishes as a new era starts. Somehow I’ve a feeling there’ll still be a few hours and pounds expended, so maybe paradise regained, with occasionally a classical theme echoing through it.


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