Condition Counts — Doesn’t It?

Wayne ShorterSorry I haven’t posted for a few days. Things have been quite hectic here — my daughter got married on Saturday night. But things are starting to get back to normal, which, for me, means perusing eBay for interesting jazz vinyl to share with all of you here. So, today let’s start with Wayne Shorter, JuJu, Blue Note 4182. This looks to be an original New York USA pressing with the ear and the Van Gelder in the dead wax. The vinyl is listed in M- condition and the cover is VG++. Bidding is in the $230 range and the auction closes later today. I’m surprised the bidding isn’t a little higher for this record and I’m surprised that the seller either didn’t have a reserve price, or that this record already surpassed the reserve. In any case, I would expect the bidding to get quite a bit higher for this record, given what we’ve seen lately for original Blue Notes of any stripe.

These sellers have some decent collectibles on eBay this week, including:

Mal Waldron, Mal 1, Prestige 7090. This is an original New York yellow label pressing listed in M- condition for the record and not so great condition for the cover, maybe VG- or G+. The bidding is in the $130 range. Might be a nice score for someone who has a nice cover with less-than-nice vinyl.

Here’s a VG record with a VG cover that will probably get a very good price for the seller: Tina Brooks, True Blue, Blue Note 4041. This is an original pressing. Bidding is in the $225 range with more than two days to go. Here’s a listing that came from CeeDee with a note stating that it was a “hell of a price for something in this condition: Jackie McLean, Jackie’s Bag, Blue Note 4051. This one was in VG+ condition for the record and VG for the cover. It sold for $369. Frankly, CeeDee, that’s about what I’d expect these days for an original Jackie’s Bag in that condition. If anything, I would have thought that the price might even be higher.



  • The possibility of a truly M- record with a VG- cover is pretty slim. I think people tend to upgrade LPs against a rough cover.
    Then again, the “VG” cover on that Tina Brooks looks quite nice, all things considered.

  • I don’t have a copy of Cracklin’ but shouldn’t it have a DG to be original?

  • Can anyone tell me why this Lee Morgan never seems to provoke much interest? This one (seal just broken), NM/NM sold for $118

    Also this Mobley/Turnaround in VG+/VG+ sold for $259

    While this one VG+/NM went for$148

    Other Morgans and Mobleys on BN sell considerably higher (??)

    I’m about to give up on arriving at any true evaluation for these BNs

  • Agreed. Search for New Land is a personal favorite BN for me

  • I have Cracklin’ w/o deep groove and would be also interested if the first pressing had DG … I have checked highest price auctions on Popiske – no mention of DG. Does anyone know the transition period or catalogue number to no DG on New Jazz?

  • Earl I suspect the reason that Search For the New Land didn’t command top price is there was no ear. That is actually my favorite Lee Morgan album.

  • alwaysanalog: how do you know there was no “ear” in the Search? Or are you assuming it would have been mentioned if present?

  • IIRC “Search” (4169) was originally issued LATER than its catalog number (same as Free Form, for example). Copies with the “ear” exists, they are rarer that their no ear counterparts.

  • I’m not sure about that, Michel. An original first pressing of Search for the New Land should have the Plastylite P or “ear” in the dead wax, even if it was issued later than its catalog number would imply.

    There’s a long list of releases after “Search…” that all come with the “ear”. Granted, from George Braith’s “Extension” BLP 4171 (which has no ear) on, you will see more and more releases that don’t have the “ear”, but still there are more “ears” than no “ears”.

    Don Cherry’s “Complete Communion” on BLP 4226 has the “ear” and then the last one with the “ear” is Turrentine’s “Rough ‘n Tumble” on BLP 4240; all others afterwards don’t.

    What I understand from Fred Cohen’s book and DottorJazz’s Blue Note Illustrated, is that “Search…” was released ‘early enough’ to have an “ear” and that a pressing with the “ear” is therefore not rarer than copies without.

    Last but not least I really don’t think that this ‘later than its catalogue number’ subject applies to Free Form, as it’s BLP 4118 -released in 1961- which was way, way before the transition to the “earless” Liberty pressings.

    If I’m barking up the wrong tree then please let me know ’cause I only have the books to rely on 😉

  • Thanks GST, DG on the auction from your link is clearly visible …

  • @Mattyman, regarding the 4118, i just meant to say that it was also issued years after its catalogue number would imply (same as 4169). Not sure, but i think 4118 was issued around 1965 and has no ears. Anyone correct me or confirm, of course !

  • With a blush of shame on my cheeks: you’re correct, Michel. While re-reading my previous comment I all of sudden remembered that we had the exact same discussion about Free Form on LondonJazzCollector in November 2011. Gosh, how fast we forget things sometimes.

    It’s exactly what you say: Free From was released in 1966, which is much later than 1961 and well into the transition period with Liberty. So let’s conveniently skip my previous comment, I can’t believe I so easily forgot about it!

  • Can you all clarify? Can I assume that New Land with ear is relatively rare (first or not)?

  • I always understood that Free Form never had the P?
    correct?? Always a relatively cheap BN

  • By the way, here is a mystery to me : why did Blue Note staff (Lion and Wolff) sometimes did not release session after recording ? Or release a very long time after recording ? We know Mobley, for example would complain about it in the 70’s (see his John ittweiler interview). Forgotten session ? They did not like the music ? Legal concerns ? When you listen to “Free Form”, it is unbelievable that such an incredible session had to wait 5 years on the vaults. Any thoughts about it are welcome.

  • Michel – this has long been a source of confusion and irritation to me, and I’ve never read a satisfactory answer. So many wonderful session were shelved (my personal favorite at the moment is Horace Parlan’s Happy Frame of Mind). Witch Doctor is another (although released only a few years later). It is especially confusing when you think about the LPs that were released which were cobbled together from different, disconnected sessions (Delightfulee comes to mind, which contains the 4 killer quintet tracks, and the two boring big-band pop covers). Why release a disjointed record when you have a superb, full session on the shelf? Hopefully someone out there can enlighten us.

  • I doubt we will ever know why those many great sessions were shelved.
    My personal fave is Grant Green’s ‘Matador’, why oh why was that not put out at the time?
    BTW the Music Matters issue on 45rpm of that title is simply amazing. They really did amazing job.
    Pretty Pricey but well worth it.

  • there are more examples: Savoy in 1960 recorded a wonderful sextet session by Curtis Fuller with Lee Morgan, Yusef Lateef, McCoy Tyner, Milt Hinton and Roy Haynes.
    (Images – MG-12164).
    Savoy waited 15 years before issuing it.
    My guess: they had already three Curtis Fuller 1959 sessions issued in the early sixties and they went through a period of introducing and pushing the “New Thing”. So wonderful music may simply be forgotten because of other priorities.

  • brian o'blivion

    hi, i’m new here-please forgive my ignorance but does anyone know where i could find the definitive list of which BN releases have the “ear” on the first pressing and which do not? i know they all are supposed to have it up until and including “complete communion” but what are the exceptions? “free form” as noted above, is obviously one of them..thank you all in advance for your help…

  • Having worked for years in the reissue world I’ve had a lot of experience with recorded music catalogues and the reasons why things were released and why they weren’t.
    It’s is rarely possible to explain exactly why a specific session was not released, but there are plenty of general reasons.
    A session might not be deemed commercial at the time, too similar or too different from that which was previously recorded. 20 years down the line this becomes irrelevant, but to a record company juggling day to day resources they will released what works best for the business.
    For instance ‘Search For The New Land’ was recorded after ‘Sidewinder, but was shelved after ‘Sidewinder’s success so that another album with a soul jazz opener ‘Rumproller’ could be released first.
    Another reason – and I think Michael Cuscunna wrote about this in a Grant Green sleeve note – is that Alfred Lion would record certain artists far more than he could possibly release. Sometimes this was because he wanted to capture as much of their music as possible – Andrew Hill – or as a favour to the artist so that they could be advanced some more money – Green I think fell into this category.
    I guess we’re lucky that Blue Note managed to do both.

  • brian o’
    any serious BN collector needs Fred Cohen’s book “Blue Note Records,” which answers your plastylite (ear) question and pretty much all others

  • I wonder if we’re not getting to the point that we previously arrived at concerning late and one-sided BN DG’s – my conclusion from that earlier discussion was that a time came when the pressers that created the DG were being phased out; and in that restricted era, pressings with one DG or no DG (and even 2 DG’s)were probably being pressed at about the same time, so that assignment of “first” is either difficult or impossible – similarly, with the “P” or ear, there was a time when those vinyl blanks were being phased out: and it is likely a mistake to assign the “first pressing” label to one or the other.

    It will never, however, be possible to convince the buyer that the ear or the DG is not a sign of priority or at least something of value. I will continue to feel that my LP’s from those transitional eras that do or do not possess the valued ear or DG, despite having all other attributes, are genuine originals, for whatever that’s worth.

  • Earl – I completely agree. Although, I must admit I do so very much enjoy seeing the ear!

  • After going through the novice’s initiation of being ripped off by sellers who leave out or obscure information, I finally started to snag real “Blue Notes” that I could afford. One in particular is also an excellent pressing. It’s a superb record, with all the superior sonic qualities I’ve read about. The first thing I noticed was the thickness of the vinyl. A “Liberty” is thin in comparison. When I played the record, the instruments sounded as clear as glass. The drums and cymbals were not lost in the background. Everything seemed forward, like one would hear at a live session. It is, indeed, a monumental accomplishment in sound engineering.

    But I want to add the most important point. I was just lucky. Perhaps 10% of my “Blue Notes” sound this good. It’s like a crap shoot. Many have groove damage by being played on those portable record players. Some were pressed at the end of a run, which I’ve read, greatly diminishes the sound quality. There’s no way to tell. I can’t even play the mono Lexington Ave. records because I don’t have a mono cartridge. But I probably couldn’t afford one anyway. As compensation though, I was able to experience live performances of some of the masters.

    Perhaps people here are familiar Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road.” For me, the best part of the book is when the protagonist makes a special trip to “Birdland” to see Charlie Parker. It becomes a life changing experience. This is the way I feel about the few live concerts I was able to see at “The Village Vanguard,” and “Sweet Basil.” I was too young, by just a couple of years, to see Charles Tolliver’s weekly sessions at “Slugs,” in the early 70s. Man, that would have been a blast.

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