Decades of Music Brought to Life in Downtown Fort Walton Beach

All That’s Jazz

Todd Douglass Photography

Every album tells a story; Ed Smith’s collection recounts the history of music.

Do yourself a favor and be prepared to spend some time when you visit Ed Smith’s music store.

Nestled into 1,400 square feet just down the block from where Miracle Strip Parkway meets the Brooks Bridge, you can find “Jazz, and Other Hip Collectibles from the Past.”

Smith, who turned 74 in March, hails from Philadelphia, as his rat-a-tat-tat speech pattern will attest. He owned and operated music stores in Philly, New Jersey, Ohio and Tennessee before coming to the Emerald Coast “about 13 or 14 years ago,” as he puts it. His current store opened in 2014 after previous locations in Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Niceville.

“It’s hard for me to tell you how many items are in this store because I know that’s of some concern to people,” Smith said. “Got to be thousands — just look around. Pretty much every format.”

Jazz is open from noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Smith is there the entire time.

“More than anything else, personalized service is the key,” he said. “You can have a customer who knows a lot, and you can have another customer who just knows something.”

Along with an enormous array of music and art, Jazz also offers a line of handcrafted jewelry and accessories that its creator has named “Wearable Art by Ed Smith.” Which means Jazz has something for just about everyone. Smith’s encyclopedic knowledge of these offerings and their respective histories creates regular customers such as Mike Stockdale.

Stockdale lives in Tallahassee. As a regional sales representative, his territory ranges from the state capital to Pensacola.

“He’s truly one of a kind, and it’s what I call a ‘real record store,’” Stockdale said. “I’ve bought quite a few records there, and I’ve been happy with every one.”

Another loyal patron is Hans McMinamin, a noted “bluesician” who has performed with the likes of rock musicians Rick Derringer and Alvin Lee. McMinamin has taught guitar, voice and harmonica locally for the past 10 years.

“I have known Ed for 10 years,” McMinamin said, “and his selection and collection in inventory seems to be so unique, as he seems to know everything when it comes to history of music. Ed’s store represents something you would find in New Orleans, San Francisco, Philadelphia or Chicago, right here on the Emerald Coast. Go check it out, you will be amazed.” 

Categories: Music