Thursday, May 21, 2015
Bob Belden, 1956-2015
I have been reminiscing of late about the ups and downs of music retail, sharing the challenges associated with the quirky and difficult patron, and yesterday I included a very short list of what makes what I do worthwhile. Bob Belden belongs on that list.
I was shocked to hear of his passing.
I saw Bob just about everyday at my shop. Sometimes he'd pop in for a quick hello. Occasionally, he'd used the counter as his stage, venting his frustration at the music industry to anyone who would listen. Once in a while he'd bring bagels. But most of the time, it was to share his bottomless well of knowledge about jazz.
This was a man who never failed to include me, whether he was working on a new Miles Davis box (for which he won a Grammy) or just excited to play me some outtakes of Keith Jarrett's early vocal album. He never condescended to me and was always interested in what I had to say. He gifted me with hours and hours of jazz music, from the complete works of Wayne Shorter, Elvin Jones and Grant Green on Blue Note to tapes of Betty Mabry, years before her records were reissued and she became a funk cult figure as Betty Davis.
Bob would walk into the store and hear 3 seconds of a jazz CD I'd be playing and immnediately recite, "Book's Bossa" from Donald Byrd's "Slow Drag" release, 1967, Cedar Walton on piano, Walter Booker on bass. This was Take 3." It blew my mind everytime.
Something else that blows my mind everytime is this version of The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows," produced and arranged by Bob Belden and featuring Dianne Reeves. The man was brave and adventurous. One of a kind.
Long after NYCD closed, I'd see Bob on the street and he'd always stop and we'd always chat and it was never just about himself. He seemed just as interested in what I was doing, as I was in his current project.
I enjoyed and respected Bob Belden tremendously.