Nuts, Wow and Crazy

kenny-dorham-jazz-vinylAs prices continue to rise, readers are sending me more and more emails calling particular records to my attention. This one came from Clifford, with the simple note: “nuts!!!”: Kenny Dorham, Afro Cuban, Blue Note 1535. This was an original pressing, or at least the original 12-inch pressing, and it looked to be in VG++ to M- condition for the record and probably VG++ for the cover. The final price was $3,819. There were 22 bids and 13 bidders and it went from about $1,700 to the final price in the last few seconds. So, clearly, there were two bidders that really, really, really wanted this record, but that is quite a dear price to pay, IMHO. A commenter on the previous post also pointed to this one, with the simple words “Wow!” and “Crazy!”: Harold Vick, Steppin’ Out, Blue Note 4138. This was an original pressing from the same seller as the Dorham record. The record and cover were both in M- condition. The final price was $720.

To those we will add one of the records we were watching from Rudolf’s auction: Sonny Red, Out of the Blue, Blue Note 4032. This was an original pressing that looked to be in pristine M- condition for the record and the cover. It was $160 when we first looked at it and we said at the time we expected it to get at or near the $1,000 marker. We didn’t expect that it would make it all the way to $1,802, which was the final selling price. We could repeat the “Nuts, Wow,Crazy” lament, but, hey, it is what it is, and this is a great original Blue Note in perfect condition so who’s to begrudge the buyer for wanting to add that to a collection, at any price. It may not be the way I prefer to collect, but for some people (rich people?) this seems to be the way to go. It’s nice to have eBay to gauge the top end of the market for the rest of us, I guess.

27 comments

  • I think you need to launch a website for Sothebys.

  • I’m curious where these recent super high winning bids are coming from? Europe? US? Japan? My guess would be Japan.

  • $720 is just silly for that Vick. It’s a rather ho-hum session in my estimation. That Sonny Red looked obscenely beautiful, and I understand it getting expensive, though $1800 is some serious change.

  • There was a complete feeding frenzy on the auctions by the Dorham / Vick seller. I love “Pres and Teddy” on Verve, but $305? Likewise that Gene Ammons for $237; that’s one those boring Ammons jam sessions and it’s not especially rare. Chet Baker Plays Lerner & Loewe for $118; perfectly OK record, but that is a $25-50 record. Coleman Hawkins – Good Old Broadway for $141 – that is double the previous high price. Seller has lovely records and must deliver good service to get those prices; good for him.

  • The price for that Dorham is pretty incredible, especially considering that it seems like a copy that has the laminated jacket. I don’t see the frames and the back construction appears to be from the laminated version. Perhaps my screen (or eyes) are the problem, or perhaps buyers, even at the highest levels, do not care if the jacket is the earliest issued.

    I understand there are folks who think that the focus on original first pressing/release details is either comical or annoying (perhaps if the person is a seller of later pressings and is bombarded with questions about these details when selling later pressings), but at these price levels, I have to believe that collectability and value retention is (or should be) of the utmost importance for the individuals paying these prices.

    As someone with the “collecting gene”, I see a lot of parallels with collecting other vintage items, such as watches. Condition and originality drive collectability and, hence, prices. A vintage watch from a highly desirable brand like Rolex or Patek Philippe with a later issued or retouched dial is, in almost all cases, not as collectable or desirable as one with the first or original issued dial, even if all of the other parts are original to the watch. Likewise, one would think that a top condition rare Blue Note album would demand the highest prices if the vinyl AND the jacket are both in top condition and the earliest known pressing/release, but perhaps not.

  • yeah, he’s been generally a really good seller in my experience. I’ve gotten some very nice records from him. But I never feel like paying through the nose and my interest is less mainstream.

  • The cover is not that clean regardless of whether it is a kakubushi or laminated issue (agreed, photo makes it a little hard to tell).

  • I just bought the Japanese SHM CD of the Dorham for $15; it has two bonus tracks.

    Slightly cheaper…

  • I like the Vick but….words fail me. I think I paid less than a tenth of that for my mono NY copy and it is probably in better nick.

  • Why are so many of these sellers not in the united states? Aren’t there any really good and reliable sellers other than djukic (endless jealousy for the exorbitant prices he gets) or euclid. Seems like every record i look back at that is being watched here on the jazz collector is in Europe. How did they all get over there? I’m looking for some other good people in sf (billsf is quite nice) area who might not think that you should mortgage your first born in order to acquire jazz vinyl. Anybody have some ideas? Jazz is not just strictly an east coast thing you know.
    Regards,
    Brian R Anderosn

  • Anders Wallinder

    Hi Brian,
    There has over the years been many serious collectors of Jazz LPs in Europe. Jazz has always had a strong following and perhaps even more regarded as an artform and the artists as true artists in the 50s and 60s in Europe. The Blue Notes also had to be imported since there were no European pressings of BN in the 50s and 60s. There are some pressings from Germany and I think UK in the 70s though.

  • You’re right Anders and very expensive they were too!
    I used to buy most of my records from Peter Russell in Plymouth,Devon and his price for a Blue Note import between 1961 and 1965, when I started collecting,was pretty stable at 45/- to 45/6 in pre decimal UK currency.This represented about half my weekly wage in 1962, before buying any other 1960s essentials(!), so purchases were mainly limited to birthday and Xmas record token buys.The abolition of retail price maintenance legislation in1971 released a flood of overstocks into the market, especially through retailers such as Harlequin Records,so I was able to catch up a bit then.
    A useful piece of kit now would be a time machine!!

  • I don’t think there is any rationale to this… Other than the fact that some rich people want records and they want them now. They have huge disposable incomes. $500 to them is the equivalent of $30 or $40 to anyone else. They don’t care that they are paying over the odds because to them, to their wallet and bank balance, they aren’t. They are merely paying what they can afford.

    I don’t think it reflects a notional rising value for these records. Such prices may or not be repeatable — who knows?

  • I bid on four records from the two auctions under discussion in this thread and missed out on all of them (including the Chet Baker mentioned by Joe L above). In all four cases, the final prices were high (sometimes considerably so) than I’d ever seen before.

    However, I’m not sure this sets a precedent because last month I opted not to bid on some records (nice copies of Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section and Mobley’s No Room for Squares) and they both ended up going for reasonable sums. It seems like the market is capricious though I would tend to agree with the theory that reputable sellers whose grading can be trusted command higher prices. A tip of the hat here to both Rudolph and Luisa!

  • the harold vick may be desirable because he has a session on strata east that is also rare and is awesome. i’ve never heard the BN session.

  • The Strata East is quite different, but you could be right in that there may be some interest crossover there.

  • The Harold Vick on Strata East is bad a$$ all around and much much better than the BN session. And is 1/4 of the price to boot, which is baffling.

  • I did not understand this – I personally emailed the seller of the Dorham, and asked if the LP cover was a ‘framed’ kakubushi or not. They emailed me and said that it was *NOT* framed. My understanding from Cohen is that a true first original pressing must have a ‘framed’ kakubushi LP cover. Am I incorrect on this?….

  • I suppose every once in a while a rare but lackluster session might sell for big bucks because there might be some (rich) completists out there who just have to complete their collection as soon as humanly possible, and no dollar amount will stop them.

  • @James Russell: I echo your sentiments, James. I am surprised at how many secondhand LPs I have in my collection that have a little Peter Russell sticker somewhere on them. And some are extremely nice records.

  • My Afro Cuban K.D. has a framed cover.

  • I LOVE it when jazz lps -such as we’ve seen recently- go for big bucks. It gives my periodic listings a better chance of selling “high”. When I try to find items to bid on MYSELF,though-hmm…not so much! :0

  • I’m the buyer of the Harold Vick LP for $720. I’m not sure I understand what the fuss is about.

    Two or more people engage in a bidding war on a very rare item. I can’t speak for my competition but the Vick is something I have sought out, unsuccessfully, for a very, very long time. I have a sentimental investment in it for personal reasons, not for commercial ones. I’m not collecting for my retirement, only for my pleasure. So rather than lose it, I decided to splurge.

    I’m not sure why the snarky comments. Isn’t a large component of this blog one of “I hated to pay $$$ for it but I knew I might not see it again and anyways you only live once?”

    If you have it in your collection, then why care how much others are paying? And if you don’t have it in your collection, you just to wait around until you find one at your price point or take a chance. That’s what I did.

    Would I have preferred to pay less? Of course. But that’s what rainy day funds are for. I couldn’t collect BN vinyl at $720 a pop every day. But if we’re talking about fulfilling a fantasy purchase or making a collection complete, why begrudge a fellow collector?

    David from California

  • Hi, David. Thanks for the comment. I’m with you. Each of us collects according to our own interests and passions and wallets and sensibilities. Some attitudes expressed in the comments may be an inadvertent result of my own sensibilities, because I tend to avoid paying top dollar for records and I also use headlines like “Nuts, Wow and Crazy.” I am sure I am in a different position that many of the readers here, because I have been collecting jazz records for more than 40 years and have built an extensive collection with a lot of originals and I don’t feel the personal need to pay top dollar to fill in the blanks of my collection. But I don’t begrudge anybody who pays whatever he or she feels is comfortable, and, in fact, appreciate that the market value of my collection keeps going up. I try not to be snarky in my posts, but perhaps we can all be a bit more careful in how we present things.

  • Only one possibly snarky comment up there and it isn’t too bad. I’ve been recently lucky to have been able to afford a number of records that I wouldn’t have previously pulled the trigger on. Might as well strike while both irons are hot and not have to think about the stuff later, though I think we can all contend that collecting rare jazz records is an expensive hobby.

  • Hello Brian,

    Your Bill-sf was in record retailing for about 20 years. He’s originally from New York. I visit him every time I go to SF. He has quite a collection of 12-inch jazz lps, plus a large collection of audiophile LPs and 12-inch 45s. He also has an excellent British audio setup. Bill is very well versed in recorded Jazz. He is also an excellent writer.

  • Thank you Geoffrey. The check is in the mail. BTW, as you might have guessed, Geoffrey is quite an authority on earlier Jazz styles He is the author of discographies about Charlie Parker, Dial records and his latest chronicles mail order labels. He is also the President of the International Association Of Jazz Record Collectors aka IAJRC. Check it out at http://www.iajrc.org.

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