Compact in Canada

I’m on a whirlwind assignment to Ottawa, with just a couple hours at a time free to myself. Of course I used those hours to stop by a CD store.

I suspect CD Warehouse might be the place Ottawans would tell me to go, and I might sneak over there tomorrow, time permitting. This evening, though, I was downtown, and Compact Music was closer by.

Turns out they’ve got a really good jazz section, expansive, and thick with lesser-known names. Lots of CDs from the ACT label (which I know primarily through the recent Vijay Iyer recordings) and Jazzwerkstatt (going well beyond the obvious Peter Brotzmann titles). A few from Justin Time, which I’d forgotten is a Canadian label, and lots of the more obscure ECM issues. Thumbs up.

I walked out with four CDs: the one CD I saw from the Dame collective (the Ambiances Musiques folks); Bruce Cockburn‘s new one, Small Source of Comfort, because I wanted to be that sterotypical about by Canadian purchasing; one more Canadian jazz CD selected for having a promising cover (I’d gone in intending to do that) … and a surprise pull: Bunky Green’s 1990 album, Healing the Pain.

I’m not familiar with that one, but the track “Seashells” gets a good mention here from Rudresh Mahanthappa. And fwiw, there’s an endorsement on this message board.

Haven’t listened to any of them yet and probably won’t until I get home. For now, I can be content knowing I’ve found a roost in Ottawa. Compact Music is in the thick of downtown at 190 Bank St., and even better, it’s a neighborhood with a coffee place on every block.

UPDATE: I did squeeze in a visit to CD Warehouse. It turns out to be a mall store — well meaning, but reminiscent of the final days of Tower Records. DVDs and even books take up a lot of the floor space (but not a majority). Still, they had a sizable jazz section, which is more than I can say for even some indie stores in America. Most of the items-of-interest I found were obviously leftovers from the days of a freer buying policy (i.e., the avant-garde-leaning jazz was all from 2004 or earlier) but they had lots of ECM and even a couple of the Black Saint/Soul Note box sets. So, Compact Music is the place to be — but I’ll still peek into CD Warehouse next time I’m in town.

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