Back on eBay and here’s another one of those cool UK Esquire covers: Sonny Rollins, Worktime, Esquire 32-038. This is an original UK pressing listed in Ex condition for the record and VG+ for the cover. The bidding is now in the $150 range with more than five days left on the auction. One thing that is striking me now for the first time in examining these UK listings: The seller is listing this as a 1958 pressing. Is that accurate? If so, that would be two years after the original release date in the U.S. Did our friends in the UK really have two wait two years for Worktime and/or other original Prestige recordings? Another thing; while I find the cover to be pretty cool looking, there’s something a bit off about it. I guess the illustration implies getting back to work, but it does look a bit like Sonny is strung out, at least to me, which may not be the most appropriate illustration since, in my recollection, Worktime was recorded just after Sonny reportedly kicked the habit.
This thing with the Sonny Rollins Bridge is actually picking up a lot of momentum. I am back in Manhattan and I went into my elevator today where there is a television that is always tuned to a local news station and the next thing I know there’s a black and white clip of Sonny as part of a very lengthy feature story about the campaign to rename the Williamsburg Bridge in his honor. Then I got back upstairs and did a Google search and three days ago there was an article in Slate advocating “Why the Williamsburg Bridge Should be Renamed After Sonny Rollins.” I must admit, when I first wrote about this back in June (“The Sonny Rollins Bridge: Why Didn’t We Think of That?”) I thought this was really a pipe dream and not a potential reality. Now, I’ve come full circle into believing that this can actually happen. Hats off to Jeff Caltabiano for coming up with an inspired idea and actually pursuing it. I will reach out to Jeff this week and find out what we can do to help.
It felt so good clearing out portions of my inbox yesterday, I’m going to the same today, starting with a couple of items about one of my heroes, Sonny Rollins. The first comes from an article by Amanda Petrusich in the New Yorker from April 5. (I told you I was way behind on my email). It is about a movement, now in its early stages, to rename the Williamsburg Bridge in honor of Sonny. The Sonny Rollins Bridge: Now this is an idea we can all get behind. The idea is the brainchild of a guy named Jeff Caltabiano, who has established something called The Sonny Rollins Bridge Project. When we get a chance we will reach out and find out if he has made any progress. Read more
I actually started the year with a nice record score. In fact, I filled in one of the most gaping holes in my collection. After 45 years of collecting jazz records, I finally have a black label copy of Giant Steps on my shelf. And it is in beautiful M- condition for the vinyl, and at least VG++ for the cover. I just listened to it, sitting on my sofa with a big Cheshire Cat grin on my mug. I’m sure it’s totally psychological, but it has never ever sounded better, even after hundreds of prior hearings. It’s interesting because almost to the day exactly a year ago a wrote a post expressing my desire to get a black label Giant Steps for my birthday. I even dropped a couple of hints to The Lovely Mrs. JC. And here we are a year later – Happy Birthday to me (actually it’s still a few weeks away). So, I’m sure you’re all interested in how this record came to be in my possession. I will tell you the bare bones of the story, since I’m hoping it’s not actually over yet and there are potentially more records to come. The gist is that it involves a contact in South America, a carry-on
Back in action, feeling a little bit less burdened. To be clear: I have not lost my passion for collecting jazz vinyl, nor have a lost my passion for buying jazz vinyl. And certainly not for listening to jazz vinyl. I was never that much into selling jazz vinyl, so that was the real impetus of the last post. Just to be clear for anyone who may have had a different interpretation. In fact, I spent some time on eBay yesterday, perusing the listings and getting the same old rush of adrenaline. And, of course, the first record that caught my eye is one that I don’t own in an original pressing and have sought for many years: Lou Donaldson, Quartet, Quintet, Sextet, Blue Note 1537. This is an original Lexington Avenue pressing that looks to be in M- condition for
Did you watch the Kennedy Center Honors last night? It was great to see Sonny Rollins being recognized on national television and in front of the President and the world’s artistic community as one of the most important and influential artists of the past half -century. It was certainly moving and well deserved and, knowing how humble Sonny is, it must have been a tribute that he felt deeply. As I fan, I know I did. I had goose bumps just seeing Sonny up there.
Having said that, I found both the biographical tribute and the musical tribute to be really uninspired and disappointing. This was the one opportunity to explain to the country why, among all of the thousands of jazz musicians in the world, it was Sonny Rollins who was being honored on that stage. Even in just a couple of minutes with the opportunity Bill Cosby had in his introduction and in the video tribute, there was so much that could have been said that wasn’t. Here are some of the things I would have said:
Here are a few items that don’t normally make the Jazz Collector Price Guide:
Sonny Rollins, The Bridge, RCA 2527. This was an original stereo pressing listed in M- condition by a very reputable seller who also owns the best record store on Long Island. Still, while this is an interesting record with an interesting history — the return of Rollins after his legendary practice sessions on the Williamsburg Bridge — it has never really been a collectible item, at least in terms of its selling price. Perhaps it’s starting to move up the ranks: This one sold for $90.99. Not quite Blue Note prices, but a collectible price nonetheless.
Here’s another one we normally don’t track:
I got into pulling some of the old files as I’m updating the site and here’s something I wrote a few years ago about the album Sonny Rollins, What’s New?, RCA Victor LPM-2572. If you keep reading there’s a question here for readers that was never answered on the Jazz Collector site, so perhaps, if you know the answer, you can provide it. Anyway:
What’s New was Rollins’s second album after he came back from one of his self-imposed retirements in the late 1950s/early 1960s. This was the retirement during which he gained notoriety for practicing on the Williamsburg Bridge. After this comeback, his tone was a bit harsher than it had been during the ‘50s and his attack was a bit more staccato, but his playing was very inventive and inspired. In particular, he seemed to have a strong rapport with
Tuesday was Sonny Rollins’ 78th birthday. Happy Birthday, Newk.
First time I saw Sonny was in the early 1970s at the Village Vanguard. Sonny wasn’t playing live when I first got into jazz. He was in one of his several retirements. I’d go to clubs in the city and see Bill Evans and Monk and Roland Kirk and Elvin Jones and Jim Hall and they were all great. But Sonny was my hero, and he was the one I was aching to see in person.
So I was quaking with excitement that first gig at the Vanguard, a dark, rainy, gloomy Tuesday night. Who knew what to expect? Read more
Let’s look at a few from Prestige and related labels today, starting with Hank Mobley, Mobley’s Message, Prestige 7061. This was an original New York yellow label pressing listed as being in “pristine” condition from a reliable seller. The final price was $715.99, which strikes me as quite a bargain for this record in this condition. Or at least as much as any record for $715 can be a bargain. With this personnel — Mobley, McLean, Byrd, Barry Harris, Doug Watkins and Art Taylor — what would this record go for if it was on the Blue Note Label. I think we’d probably be looking in our metaphorical $2,000 bin.