A Day For Rare Blue Notes

Here are a few rare jazz records we’re watching this week on eBay. Today’s version will focus on Blue Notes, starting with: Kenny Drew, Undercurrent, Blue Note 4059. This has the West 63rd address but no deep grooves. This one is always confusing and I don’t have the Fred Cohen book in front of me. It’s an original with either one side DG or no sides DG, right? Anyway, this one is in excellent minus condition, which is, what, VG+ in our terms. The price is nearly $300 and there are still four days to go.

Wayne Shorter, JuJu, Blue Note 4182. This looks like an original mono pressing with the New York USA address, as well as the ear and Van Gelder in the dead wax. The record is listed in VG+ condition and the cover is VG++. The record closes within a day and so far there are no bidders at a $189 start price.

Here’s a 10-inch Blue Note with a very cool insert:

Miles Davis Volume 2, Blue Note 5002. This is an original pressing. The record is listed in VG++ condition and the cover in VG+ condition. There are already 11 bids and the pricing has topped $250. As for the insert: It is called The Blue Note Story and it is quite awesome and it is something we’ve written about before, so you can just click on the link.

Finally we go with one destined for the $1,000 bin, or the $2,000 bin or perhaps even the $3,000 bin: Jutta Hipp with Zoot Sims, Blue Note 1530. This is an original Lexington Avenue pressing. The record is listed in M- condition and the cover is VG+. The price is $1,625 with more than a day left.

13 comments

  • Al, when you wrote THIS post on March 1st of 2011, you gave Fred all room to write the following on 4059 when he had a ‘review copy’ on eBay for sale, quote: “For the benefit of Blue Note collectors and/or readers of the pressing guide, I would like to bring to their attention to the recent eBay sale of Kenny Drew “Undercurrent” on Blue Note 4059. The vinyl was in virtually new condition; the jacket showed minor wear (you can find the complete description as eBay #300517372359. What made this copy interesting is the lack of the deep groove on Side 2 and the “Review Copy” stamp on both the Side 2 label and the back slick. This is the first time I have seen a label-stamped review copy of Undercurrent and it raises the issue once again as to the definition of an “original” pressing: is it a record, regardless of any other consideration, that includes all the details – such as a deep groove – that collectors look for, or is it the first issue of that record? It is my impression that the presence of the “Review Copy” stamp on the label is a very strong indication that the “original” Undercurrent pressing had no deep groove.

    Blue Note frequently stamped “Review Copy or “Audition Copy” on the jacket only, making it possible to substitute another copy of the same record. But the presence of the “Review Copy” stamp on the label would suggest

    that it was the first pressing – sent to magazines and writers prior to its official release. The only exception to this might be in an instance where a record did not sell well and a second group of review copies was distributed. The fact that Kenny Drew never recorded another session as a leader for Blue Note as well as the general scarcity of “original” pressings of Undercurrent leads me to believe that the record’s poor reception in stores might possibly have encouraged Blue Note to try a second distribution of review copies. But that is speculation.

    Historically, the presence of a “Review Copy” stamp on the label or cover has usually depressed the value of a Blue Note in the eyes of collectors. What is interesting in this latest sale is that the final bid of $1202.77 for a “Review Copy” was the second highest price ($1311) that Popsike shows for the June 2010 sale of a standard “original” pressing.

    My point is that once the deep groove no longer appears consistently on both sides of Blue Note pressings, deciding what is and is not an “original” is difficult, if not impossible.

    Cordially, Fred”

  • Later on, Don-Lucky shared the following quote on 4059 from Larry Cohn with all of us:

    Here’s a quote sent to me from our good friend Larry Cohn back on February 2nd, 2011 regarding this very issue:

    “Fred’s point is that for collectors when there is an older or original technology or version that would be preferable, even in the case of a “tie”. A perfect example is his sale last week on eBay of a copy of Undercurrent by Kenny Drew, BLP 4059. It is always an interesting title since it does not exist with the dg on both sides (apart from a Plastylite test pressing I guess, but I mean a real copy with actual Blue Note blue & white labels on it).

    Fred of course lists the DG-one side as the original. But he is consistent –in his auction he did not call his copy an original because it had no dg at all, even though it had the Plastylite P stamped in the vinyl runoff. I looked at his copy in the store before he sent it off to the winner (who paid some weird amount like $1200) and it had “REVIEW COPY” stamped on the label on Side B, as well as on the back of the jacket.

    In my research that “REVIEW COPY” stamp would be just the evidence I was looking for to prove that this copy of 4059 was indeed a first pressing original. It would support my theory that when the new technology was introduced it was applied to new releases, with the older repressings getting second class citizen (or more accurately random, anything will do) treatment. So I would argue that the NO DG with P copies of 4059 are the originals and the dg-1 side copies are random second pressings. Of course, the no P copies are reissues dating from 1966 or 1967, 5 or 6 years after the record was released.

    But I see Fred’s point. For later titles, say Song for My Father or The Sidewinder, getting a dg copy is very, very satisfying from a collecting standpoint. It is preferable to the good old, garden variety modern NO DG with P copy. That is his point-of-view and he is honest enough to even go by it when he is selling something.

    -Larry”

    I’m glad I copied and pasted these comments back then, since they might come in handy when I find a copy of 4059 for myself! 😉

  • Mattyman — thanks for doing the research. It’s great that we have all of that information here on Jazz Collector when we need it — we just need to find it.

  • It’s interesting to see how the Jazz Collective keeps moving forward and building on our past postings like this one. Pretty soon, this site could form the basis for a university course: The History of Jazz Record Pressings-101, with Fred’s book as the required text !

    (Mattyman, you could certainly curate the official “Jazz Collector Archive” with all that great reference info you have saved over the years… Great work !)

  • I’m simply reposting the knowledge from you an the other cats because all these well written and extensive comments have proven to be super helpful for me and by saving and reposting them I hope they’ll be just as helpful for others. And of course it’s good to rehash valuable information for posterity! 🙂

  • From the Cohn quote above:

    “For later titles, say Song for My Father or The Sidewinder, getting a dg copy is very, very satisfying from a collecting standpoint. It is preferable to the good old, garden variety modern NO DG with P copy.”

    I have a relatively new interest in Blue Note originals and I just wanted to share an experience of mine. I recently acquired both stereo and mono pressings of Lee Morgan’s “The Sidewinder”. Both are New York USA labels with the “P” (I have Cohen’s book), and the mono is deep groove but the stereo is not. The stereo, however, weighs a solid 170 grams, while the mono is a wimpy 130. For me, the non-deep groove pressing is the more satisfying of the two (mono vs. stereo arguments aside), for the deep groove in my mind is usually a compliment to a thick, sturdy piece of wax.

    In the Blue Note originals book, Cohen writes:

    “After a certain point, it can never truly be known whether similar pressings for the same record, whose only difference is the presence or absence of a deep groove on one, both, or neither labels, is actually the original *first* pressing. But since collectors have a natural bias for any detail that suggests an early or original issue, the presence of a deep-groove has been treated in this guide as an indication of an original, but *only* an indication.”

    The historic case of the copy of “Undercurrent” with a review stamp and no deep groove is the perfect evidence for the argument that deep grooves cannot indicate an original pressing after 4058. It makes sense that, as Cohen indicates in his book, the center of the stamper was insignificant and used without paying attention to whether or not it had a raised rim to create the deep-groove. It’s cool, but all sonic things equal, I’d rather have a sturdy piece of wax.

  • I agree about rehashing the information. There is just so much knowledge out there that I would I forget and it’s nice being reminded.

    One day when I have time, i would love to create a simple editable wiki where users can post any information about any album they can think of. I think it would be as simple as how jazzdisco.com catalogs sessions except instead of session info you have pressing info which is open for anyone to edit. One day… But for now, this site is invaluable, I just search and find, there is so much information here.

  • Fred Cohen wrote: My point is that once the deep groove no longer appears consistently on both sides of Blue Note pressings, deciding what is and is not an “original” is difficult, if not impossible

    This is very interesting as I had aways taken his indications about DG on one side only to be true… Whereas my own experience was that after a certain point the presence of the DG seemed to be irrelevant as to the authenticity or not of an original first pressing.

  • I would like to compare the prices of 4059, NO dg:
    Cohen’s: $ 1202.77
    this last one: $ 493.00
    there is this small difference, $ 709,77.
    for a stamp only.
    I wouldn’t take for granted what market states for original.

  • Hi out there, for me myself this case is clear. According to my “bible” 4059 is not a delayed release and must have dg on both sides as first pressing. I often compared my discription with popsike, culdn`t find mistakes and I believe in !
    regards
    Horst

  • I don’t think there are pressings of 4059 with DG on both sides, either side 2 only or no DG at all.

  • Horst, have you seen a 2 sided DG pressing of 4059. That would be a nice find.

  • I´m so sorry to have written such a mass yesterday on work. Last night I checked my copy and my discription and 4059 is a delayed release without dg as 1st press. “Unfortunately” I have too many Blue Notes meanwhile to keep them all correctly in my mind. So I´ll write only proven statements in the future. Sorry once more…

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