We head to Belgium this week to catch up with our friend Lander AKA The Jazz Kid for our next set of Diggin’ Deep stories. An avid record fanatic and accomplished DJ, Lander has bulit up a formidable collection over the years, a feat you can study by checking out his monthly mix series.
Like many of his contemporaries, Lander caught the record habit through his early love of hip-hop and the exploration of the samples that were often contained within. Gradually digging deeper to find the records with that elusive break or snippet, he soon found himself delving into the vast sea of 60s and 70s soul, funk, Latin and during the subsequent years, jazz, a genre that would soon become an all encompassing hobby for the young collector. He started by unearthing bits and pieces at home, his mother’s and father’s record collection proving to be a key early source of choice cuts at the start, before moving onto the various shops and flea markets of the surrounding area, where he would discover Miles Davis’ ‘Ascenseur Pour L’Echafaud’, the cult soundtrack to the Nouvelle Vague masterpiece of the same name, and classic dates from American jazz masters Cannonball Adderley and Blue Mitchell. As he delved further into music history, it soon became clear there were also plenty of home country heroes to uncover, names like Marc Moulin and Open Sky Unit, and soon records from Belgium’s musical elite soon found themselves sitting side by side with their American counterparts on Lander’s shelves.
His comprehensive knowledge and love of music soon landed him his own jazz show on the local community station Radio Scorpio, and since then, he has partnered with Laid Back Radio, where he has hosted the ‘Snap Your Fingers’ radio show, as well as penning several in-depth articles about European jazz. One of Belgium’s more established DJs on the jazz, funk and soul circuit, Lander has played records across the country in assorted venues, as well as guesting at both Brussels’ annual Jazz Marathon and his hometown Leuven Jazz festival (alongside the UK’s Nat Birchall and Francis Gooding), and even further afield at The Jazz Meet here in London (twice).
When we asked Lander for three tunes and the digging stories behind them, we knew he would have on or two up his sleeve. He didn’t disappoint! Read on to learn about flea market finds, a rare box of library records and simply being in the right place at the right time…
#1: Nico Gomez & His Afro Percussion Inc. “Ritual”
When I first started looking for old records, I was in my teens and I had hardly any money to spend. So at that time I avoided record stores and did most of my digging at flea markets and charity shops. I also realized that I shouldn’t be hoping to find rare US funk or jazz records over here in Belgium, but rather look for great music on unusual or unknown records. That’s why I started searching for good Belgian funk and jazz records, because I figured they were easier to find than foreign stuff. So about ten years ago, I was at a flea market and had already spent most of my small budget on a few late 70s James Brown records, when I was browsing through a few boxes of records priced at 2 euros each, when I pulled out an original copy of Nico Gomez & His Afro Percussion Inc. It was one of the first records I had discovered when researching Belgian music, and it was a holy grail among collectors of European rare groove. I clearly recall the feeling that my heart skipped a beat when I pulled that record out and it’s basically that feeling that still keeps me hunting for records after all these years.
#2: Alan Parker “That’s What Friends Are For”
On a Saturday two years ago, I was planning to go to a small record fair in the afternoon when I recalled that there was a small flea market going on that day. I doubted to go, as it was a small flea market and it was already 10am, so chances were slim that I was actually going to find something. But then I remembered a story that my friend had told me: a friend of his had come across a box of library records at said flea market the year before, but had only bought a handful of them because he didn’t know any of the records… So I decided to go, hoping for that impossibly tiny chance that that same seller would be there and that those library records hadn’t sold in the last year. I arrived and started looking around when I saw a box with records that had a lot of the same colored spines… I could just sense that it was that box with library records and my feeling proved to be right when I started browsing: a lot of green cover KPMs, Brutons, Chappells, a few Belgian things like the RKM libraries and a few Selection titles, and of course, a dozen or so Themes records, including many great titles by the likes of Alan Parker, Alan Hawkshaw, Brian Bennett and many more. I offered the seller a price for the entire box of approximately 100 titles (the original price was 2 euros per piece) and walked away with it, only then realizing that it was the first time I had gone to a flea market by bike and thus had to walk a few kilometers home, trying to prevent that big box from falling off the back of my bike…
#3: Sonny Rollins “Moritat”
I used to take the train to the city of Antwerp regularly to visit the now unfortunately defunct Record Collector store. The Record Collector was a notorious store, of which every digger has one or more great stories of the crazy things they found there (in my case, to name only three from the top of my head: Sahib Shihab “Companionship”, Quartetto Di Lucca “S/T” and Nathan Davis “Rules Of Freedom”. The latter was the most expensive, priced at 20 euros (!)). Now, a few years back I made a trip to Antwerp, but it was one of those rare occasions on which I hadn’t found anything at Record Collector, so I hit up a few other spots, but they didn’t turn up much either. At the last spot, I bought one cheap jazz record and was already grieving that I hadn’t found anything, when the shop owner asked: “So, you are looking for old jazz records? I have a stack that has just come in, do you want to take a look?” He put 20 or so records on the counter and I couldn’t believe my eyes: amongst some Count Basie records were a few original Savoy records, an original Jazz Messengers on Blue Note, a handful of original early Prestige titles like Donald Byrd & Art Farmer “2 Trumpets”, Frank Foster “Wail, Frank Wail”, Sonny Rollins “Sonny Rollins Plus Four” and also, the cherry on top: a beautiful copy of Sonny Rollins “Saxophone Collossus”. I made a choice of about 12 records, and asked the seller to price them, honestly thinking they would be way out of my league… Well, I don’t remember all the prices, but I do remember that I walked out with the entire stack of records and a big smile on my face.