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Originally published March 26, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified March 26, 2008 at 12:51 AM

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Jazz fans lament record store's closing

After nearly 26 years as the homey basement hub and hangout for Seattle jazz musicians and fans, Bud's Jazz Records is going out of business...

Seattle Times jazz critic

After nearly 26 years as the homey basement hub and hangout for Seattle jazz musicians and fans, Bud's Jazz Records is going out of business.

"I just can't keep it going anymore," said James Rasmussen, a Seattle trumpet player and leader of the band the Jazz Police; Rasmussen bought the store from founder Bud Young in 2001.

Bud's Jazz Records, at 102 S. Jackson St. in Pioneer Square, will be sorely missed by the local jazz community. Known for its unstinting support of local musicians, the store consistently plugged discs by Seattle artists — often unknown — and piles of their CDs crowded the counter.

The store was also known for supporting female jazz artists and sometimes displayed art on its walls.

People in the jazz community could always depend on running into someone they knew there, and conversations often ran hot and heavy about the preferences for one artist over another. There was always an album on the CD player to compete with — or support — the conversation.

Because it was a small store, Bud's often did not have the financial clout to make quantity orders required by major distributors, so it was sometimes difficult to find new releases. But visiting artists — such as saxophonist Branford Marsalis — playing Jazz Alley or other clubs said they always looked forward to visiting Bud's when they were in town.

"It's sad, but it's not surprising," said Seattle pianist and composer Jovino Santos Neto, who noted that all music-distribution businesses are migrating to the Internet. "But I enjoyed having a store where you can a find a record and somebody can talk to you about it."

The music business has been experiencing a major slump, and jazz records now account for less than 2 percent of CD sales overall. Bud's was one of the few specialty jazz shops remaining in the U.S.

"It's been getting worse and worse, steadily," said Rasmussen, who judged his losses since he bought Bud's at more than $100,000.

In addition to slumping sales, increases in rent also contributed to Rasmussen's decision to close the store. Young kept an interest in the business, but Rasmussen said Young would forgive the remaining debt.

"My hope is that we could sell the name and everything else to somebody out there involved in the tech field," said Rasmussen, who feels that if the stock were for sale online, business might improve.

Barring such a buyer, however, Rasmussen said he will start selling the stock off the second week of April at 10 percent off, the third week at 30 percent and the fourth week at 50 percent, until everything is sold. Whatever is left will be donated to Seattle Public Schools.

The store will close its doors at the end of next month.

Paul de Barros: 206-464-3247 or pdebarros@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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