Jerry's Record Exchange - Denver, CO

edited July 2010 in Bricks & Mortar
Everyone's got that one place that was the primary source for jazz information and fueled the exploration of more and more jazz. Jerry's Record Exchange was that place, for me.


Jerry's Record Exchange.
312 East Colfax
Denver, CO.

I was twenty two and had just moved to Denver, into the Capitol Hill neighborhood. I was fortunate to have several decent record shops within walking distance of my front door. Jerry's was the best of them.

It's an old school store. Dust that reflects both the age of the music and the building. Vinyl packed in everywhere. The cds are stored behind the counter, so all you have to browse through are the sleeves which are kept in plastic formfitting baggies (which, actually, made browsing really easy). There are tapes stacked here and there. It's the kind of place you have to do some searching. Music was ordered by letter, but not within each letter always. Sonic Youth may or may not precede Spiritualized; that kind of thing, but you almost always find both under 's'. The used prices can vary wildly, but I rarely paid more than eight bucks for a used cd (regardless of genre) and found plenty under five.

John Liquidis purchased the store from Jerry, I can't remember, back in the eighties or something. I think John had said he was a regular customer, and when Jerry wanted to sell, John stepped up (it's been a while for me, so I could be misremembering many of the facts).

John is a published poet originally from New York, beat poet I think. Great for stories about seeing Sonny Rolllins make an impromptu appearance at an outdoor art opening and just start playing, those kind of stories. For me, walking into that store with only a basic knowledge of what I liked in jazz (Monk, Mingus, Frisell), John was happy to make recommendations, play music for me over the store stereo as I spend hours digging through the music. He also knew I wasn't making shit for pay in the beginning, and would give helpful advice over whether I should buy an album at a particular price, which ones were the better deal for my money, etc. Over time, obviously, I got pretty good at searching down jazz on my own, but there's always something to discover, and he was always there to point out the special ones to me.

Some of the albums/musicians I specifically remember him pulling off the shelf for me and highly recommending were Don Pullen's "Ode to Life", Codona's "Codona 3", Dizzy Reece's "Blues in Trinity", Clifford Jordan's "Highest Mountain", Pete Laroca's "Turkish Women at the Baths". These are albums I probably would've found eventually, but maybe not, and not nearly as early in my jazz listening habits were it not for his attention.

He was the first to suggest buying albums based on sidemen. He also gave me the rundown on the importance of labels and dates, and went into detail about all of it. And not in some oppressively didactic lecture, but just shooting the breeze. It was great.

He'd also get comped a bunch of tickets to various shows around town, jazz and non-jazz. He always passed tickets on to me to check stuff out. I wasn't aware that Joe Bonner lived in Denver until Jerry clued me in.

They don't have a website as far as I can tell. I thought they used to, but the address that makes the most sense to be theirs has nothing but Japanese script on the google search, which may mean hacked, may mean nothing. They've got an ebay store I think, but it always seemed a bit halfhearted. They're a true brick&mortar.


  • Jerry's sounds like a great shop. I used to shop for vinyl in Denver. My mainstay was Wax Trax for alt rock. I didn't get into jazz until later when CDs had taken over. By then, I was buying mostly via mail order and never discovered Jerry's. My loss.
  • I spent many an afternoon at Wax Trax. I lived less than a block away at one point, always within walking distance. Didn't they have three different storefronts on that one block of 13th between Washington and Pearl? A main store, a used store, and a vinyl; or something like that.
  • Yeah, Wax Trax had 3 storefronts. The main store on the corner was rock/popular. Next door was all other genres (jazz, classical, international, etc). Across the street was the used store. The main store was the hipster place. While they didn't have one guy like Jerry to help you out, the plastic dividers had mini fanzine style descriptions of the bands they liked which was helpful in learning new bands.
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