Back to the Bridge and a Rare Blue Note

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.

Meanwhile, I was on eBay watching a copy of Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus, Prestige 7079. This was an original promo record listed in M- condition for the record and M- condition for the cover, although the cover had radio station call letters written in large ink on the back, which would diminish the cover in my eyes and in the eyes of most collectors, I would presume. This one sold for $2,334. Without the radio call letters, I think this would have made it into the $3,000 bin. The other Rollins record I was watching, the UK pressing of Worktime, wound up selling for about $270. About that cover — I never meant to imply that the illustrator was trying to convey anything about drugs but, like GTF and other commenters, I see something in the cover where that can come across, although I do like the cover quite a lot, more than the U.S. version.

Also on my watch list was this item from the seller Keca222, who has been quite active lately: Kenny Dorham, Afro-Cuban, Blue Note 1535. This was an original Lexington Avenue 12-inch pressing listed in M- condition for the record and Ex condition for the cover. It sold for$4,049.99. Wow. Don’t forget the real original pressing of Afro-Cuban was the 10-inch record. For the 12-inch release, they added another side of material that had been previously recorded but unreleased. I remember a post several years back where Rudolf mentioned not considering the 12-inch record the original pressing and, for some reason, that always stuck with me. Now the 12-incher is a $4,000 record and the 10-incher would be, what, maybe $1,500 at most? I have an original 10-inch pressing, but a reissue of the 12-incher. Would love to have an original 12-inch LP, but $4,000 is a bit beyond my comfort zone — quite a bit, in fact.


  • the call letters on the rollins wouldn’t diminish the cover at all in my mind. an M- record is more than enough for me!

  • The Saxophone Colosus would have gone for more if it wasn’t the 2nd cover.
    The original W 50th cover is more greenish blue. The one listed above has the blue color that appears on later W 50th covers and the the later NJ pressings. I have both of the W 50th covers and the difference is obvious.
    It’s the same cover color variation for The New Miles Davis Quartet PRLP 7014.

  • I think the call letters could be lightened or diminished as they look to be in grease pencil.

  • Caroline Somerset

    The WOOK call letters are *very* important and add significant historical provenance (and monetary value) to that Rollins “Saxophone Colossus” – in the late 1940’s WOOK launched in Washington, D.C. as the first radio station to serve primarily African-American audiences. This promotional LP, from the WOOK files, is a particularly important link to the African-American community at that time. Furthermore, the first/second album cover argument by Woody above is beside the point, as the early promotional stamp on both the LP *AND* the rear LP cover are far more important historically and in terms of market price than the variant cover color. I was traveling and missed this LP – had I been aware of this, I easily would have bought this for over $3,000 – you won’t get another promo “Colossus” with better historical importance and provenance, cover color aside… C

  • Caroline – Thank you that’s a nice historical bit I completely missed. Didn’t read the description carefully and thought Wook was the previous owner’s last name…
    I thought I was right about the cover color variation but that was based on my 1966 Japanese Jazz Critique Prestige Discography book. Guess it’s time for an updated version….

  • Caroline Somerset

    Woody: “…that was based on my 1966 Japanese Jazz Critique Prestige Discography book…” – that made me lol! I really needed that this evening – TY :-))

  • Fine contribution Caroline re: historical importance and provenance of a significant record album. However, if I were the lucky new owner I would be glad the writing is on the back and not the front – preserving the “Album Presentation”. WOOK DJ’s had the foresight to mark it on the back making this truly a wonderful rare artifact.

  • Thanks for the insight Caroline. Worth every penny in my opinion, just too bad I didn’t have that many pennies.

  • Back in the day when I was a disc jockey at radio stations in Chi-town, records would be marked front and back with call letters so as to prevent pilferage and/or resale. I recall marking Blue Notes and such with call letters, at the time to me they were product to be sent out on the airwaves, nothing more.
    They were not thought of as commodities that would have great intrinsic value in years to come, rather they were items to be played and dug.
    And when I worked/owned a record store in Chi-town, one would, if one had ethics and a sense of morals that day, not buy from potential sellers of lps who walked in with ‘me, any lps that had radio station call letters. Though at times I was tempted.

  • I was vaguely aware of different shades of blue on the Colossus cover, later issues having a clearer blue, but the difference is minor, unlike # 7014 which switches from green on the first issue to blue on the N.J. issue. Or do I miss something concerning the Colossus?
    Al raises the interesting point of 12″ albums definitely having the upper hand versus any 10″ issue, irrespective whether they have been re-issued on 12″ or not. E.g. the rare 10″ Mobley quartet album on Blue Note 5066, which was never re-issued on 12″, lags behind legitimate 12″ Mobley’s showing up quite regularly and still fetching top prices. Afro-Cuban, the 12″ re-issue beats the original 10″, but has the bonus of an extra side with unissued material.

  • I’d like to know if this SaxCol was flat edge. It does not say in description. My copy has Flat E and the “bluer tint” cover and original onion skin inner. I’m not sure if it really matters with the greenish or blueish. Personally I like the blue from an estethic viewpoint.

  • Caroline Somerset

    Shaft: All original 446 West 50 Saxophone Colossus are flat edge, as they were pressed in 1956. The change from Flat Edge to Safety Lip occurred in/around July 1957…. C

  • Caroline: Thanks 😉 Sorry I was unclear. I know about the FE for SaxCol but I was wondering if the one copy sold in this ebay auction that we were discussing was indeed FE?

    In my experience many times sellers forget to mention or think it is unsignificant. I’ve seen many with safety lip that are marketed as original 1st pressing – at least locally.

  • Shaft: One of the reasons I thought the W. 50th SaxCol Blue\Green cover was the first is that my copy has the flat rim as my Blue cover lp has the lip. Both copies are VG- at best but as a photographer variations in cover art facinated me(to satisfy my inner geekness).
    Rudolf: The color difference for the W. 50th SaxCol cover is isn’t as great as the Miles cover but when placed side to side……

  • Caroline Somerset

    Woody: It is *SUPER* interesting to see those two Colossus covers side by side – many, many thanks. To me, these are the same, but just a variant blue based on the dye lot used to create the cover, and not a true color screen differential – as in the two Miles ‘New Quintet’ LP’s you’re referring to (I have that Miles LP in both the green screen and blue screen cover variants, and as you know, they’re completely different animals – no mistaking them for one another – aside from the font in the upper right corner which is the real giveaway). Very best, C x

  • Yes, interesting stuff… My W. 50th M- Colossus with safety lip has the Not For Sale stamp on the label but not on the blue variant cover. Does this make it a second pressing and a Bergenfield label a third pressing? Not that I particularly care given the pristine condition and sound.

  • Caroline: I think your analysis is spot on. Just a variation of blue. The Miles cover are very different in color but maybe more importantly the text Font is not the same as you point out. Well done.
    Woody: Interesting that my Blue SaxCol has the flat rim (and not your copy).

    Regarding the Not for sale stamps – you would be inclined to think that they were added to the first pressing run (flat edge etc) but apparently not. Maybe it was pressed at different plants at roughly the same time and one took care of the promo copies and the other for resale? Who knows? The Bergenfields are later though….

  • Shaft: I agree with you on the Not For Sale stamp probably not being an indicator of being from the beginning of a press run. Prestige promo’s were just stock copies that were hand stamped at their office as they were being sent out as needed.

  • So, to JerryM’s question, a W. 50th with safety lip should be considered a 2nd pressing, and Bergenfield a 3rd pressing? Any consensus from the peanut gallery on this point?

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