If yesterday was a Prestige day, let’s make today a Blue Noter, starting with Here Comes Louis Smith, Blue Note 1584. This looks to be an original West 63rd Street pressing listed in VG++ condition for the record and VG+ for the cover. The bidding is in the $175 range with about four days to go. We were watching a different copy of the same record a few days ago and that one was in just VG condition for the record and VG+ for the cover. It wound up selling for $561, so I would expect this one to fetch a higher price. Will it enter the $1,000 bin? Could be. According to Popsike, the highest recorded price for this record is $1,514. Not owning an original copy of this record myself, I haven’t listened to it in a long time. When I put a record on the turntable, I usually prefer an original pressing. But perhaps I will make an exception. After all, the personnel includes one of my all-time favorite alto players, none other than the infamous “Buckshot La Funke.”
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.
Let’s start the day with a couple of 10-inch LPs we are watching on eBay: Gigi Gryce and his Orchestra with Clifford Brown, Jazz Time Paris, French Vogue LD 173. This is the original French pressing, issued before the Blue Note version in the U.S. The record and cover are both listed in VG++ condition. This one has just been posted on eBay and closes in seven days. There are already 15 bids and the price is in the $115 range. Here’s the question: Would you rather own the French pressing or the Blue Note? I know, most of us would say “both” but that is not an option. I have to admit, I’d go for the Blue Note. I can’t say why, other than I always have a big smile on my face when I go through my 10-inch records and come across an original Blue Note in beautiful condition. The Vogues, of which I have a few, don’t have nearly the same effect.
For those of you in the U.S., the documentary Chasing Trane will be on television at 10 p.m. tonight as part of the Independent Lens series on PBS. Here’s a video clip they posted on the site. It’s hard to believe that it was already a year ago that I had my mini breakdown as a result of the Presidential election and wrote the essay about how Chasing Trane helped me to cope. I wish I could say that my fears were unfounded but, unfortunately, they weren’t. They may take away the pillars of our democracy and our society, but they can’t take away our music. Or our heroes. Watch it. I will, even though I’ve seen it twice already.
Back to eBay. The other day I mentioned the seller Keca222 and that $4,049.99 copy of the 12-inch Kenny Dorham Afro-Cuban on Blue Note. The seller also had this one: Hank Mobley, Blue Note 1568. This was a pressing that did not have the New York 23 on one side, which, to some collectors, diminishes its value, although I’ve never seen a clear explanation why that is the case. But, as we know, we collectors can be a bit strange in our predilections, don’t you think? Anyway, this was in VG+ condition for the record and probably EX or Ex+ for the cover. There was the dreaded phrase “feelable scratches,” yet it still sold for $3,650, which is quite a hefty some for this record in that condition, New York 23 or not.
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.
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.
Thanks to Daryl and to all the thoughtful, and not so thoughtful (just kidding), commenters on the previous post. Given how sporadically I’ve been posting lately, it’s nice to get some other voices involved. I do have a full complement of jazz records in my eBay watch list, so I will share some of the more interesting items, starting with Lee Morgan, Volume 3, Blue Note 1557. This was an original West 63rd New York 23 pressing that was listed in M- condition for the record and perhaps just a shade below M- for the cover. There were 21 bidders and 37 bids and a final price of $3,629 that jumped from $2,000 in the final seconds. This is not the highest price we’ve seen for this record, according to Popsike, which recorded a copy selling for $4,177 last year. Still, it’s way up there. Brings to mind a note I received from one of our readers last week, linking to a recent article about million-dollar comic books and wondering why, jokingly, the recent Lee Morgan documentary didn’t have a similar impact. Well, we’re not yet in the millions, but our jazz records are definitely on the rise. Plus, we get to listen to what we collect, not just look at it, although looking at it is cool too, as was well discussed in the prior post.
Today we have a guest column by one of our loyal readers. I’ve been corresponding with Daryl Parks periodically for years and am pleased that we are finally able to provide him with a forum for his ideas. This one, we hope, should provoke some thoughts and discussion
By Daryl Parks
Discogs currently features an original Blue Note, first press, mono, deep groove copy of the Art Blakey A Night at Birdland Vol2 (VG+/VG+) for $500. Discogs also offers a (NM) 1985 Direct Metal Master, (DMM) French, “Cadre Rouge Audiophile” version, on scrawny vinyl, of the LP for $20 + postage. I own the original Blue Note (VG++) and the DMM re-issue (NM). Prepare for heresy: I prefer the sound of the inexpensive, DMM, anorexic-vinyl re-issue. I’m not sure how to make sense of that. Read more
Since I was away for so long, I’d like to catch up on some jazz vinyl auctions I missed, starting with a few from our friends at the Jazz Record Center. Let’s start with John Jenkins with Kenny Burrell, Blue Note 1573. This was an original pressing that looked to be in M- pristine condition. The final price was $1,382. This may sound weird, but that price seems a little low to me, considering the condition and the reputation of the seller. Just did a quick check over at Popsike and, indeed, this record has sold for more than $2,000 in the past. I have no theories to offer on this, particularly now that the Jazz Record Center accepts Pay Pal, but the market is the market and it often simple reflects who is bidding against whom at that particular time.
Back online again and tracking some of my favorite jazz records on eBay, starting with Jackie McLean, McLean’s Scene, New Jazz 8212. This is an original deep groove purple label pressing. The record is listed in VG+ or perhaps better condition and the cover is VG++. The start price is about $200 and so far there are no bidders with more than five days left. This one will get action, right?
Miles Davis, Kind of Blue, Columbia 1355. This is an original white label promotional copy. The record is listed in M- condition and the cover is Ex or Ex+ condition. There are more than four days left on the auction and the bidding is in the $170 range, with 13 bids. Curious to see where this ends up. We were watching a promo Kind of Blue a few weeks ago that had a $600 start price and no bidders — but it also had some condition questions. We have seen promo copies sell for as much as $2,700 in the past, but this one will not get to that level.