Just back from a brief holiday in San Francisco and lovely Creede, Colorado, where my son directed a play. I seem to be picking up exactly where I left off, with another note from Ceedee bemoaning, in a jocular way, the latest adventures in Blue Note prices. Let’s start with Miles Davis, Volume One, Blue Note 1501. This was an original Lexington Avenue pressing listed in M- condition for the record and Ex for the cover. The final price was $1,125. No surprise there. I have to admit to you all that I recently passed on a lovely collection that contained a copy of this record in even better condition. The records in the collection were in beautiful condition but, unfortunately for me, there weren’t enough records that I didn’t already own to make it worth my while. I would have had to spend months on eBay to get back the return on my investment and I would have added some gems to the collection but, as you can probably surmise, I am just too busy with my regular work to devote my energies to selling records these days.
Here’s a few items from the Jazz Collector in box, starting with a note from our friend CeeDee, who is commenting that “it looks like the cost of some Liberty pressing Blue Notes are approaching the price of the originals,” with a bunch of links, including Kenny Burrell, Blue Lights, Blue Note 1597. Not only is this a Liberty pressing, the cover, with the Andy Warhol illustration, is only on VG condition. This one sold for $255, which is quite a change in the market over the past few years. The other big change in the market is the tremendous spike in prices of the United Artists Blue Notes, which were 1980s reissues for the Japanese market. Unfortunately, I sold a lot of my Liberty and United Artists pressings a few years ago on eBay, generally for $10 or $20 apiece, which was the going rate at the time. Fortunately, however, the reason I sold those pressings was because I was able to obtain copies of the originals and these were just duplicates.
Let’s catch up on some completed and upcoming auctions of rare jazz vinyl on eBay, starting with Dizzy Reece, Blues in Trinity, Blue Note 4006. This was an original West 63rd Street pressing in VG++ condition for the record and VG+. When we first started watching this record it was in the $125 price range but was seeing a lot of activity. We speculated that it may approach the $1,000 bin and it wound up selling for $906.80. This one, Lee Morgan, Candy, Blue Note 1590, was in the $925 range when we first spotted it and, based on the seller and condition — M- for the record and cover — we speculated that it was destined for the $2,000, but it came up just short, selling for $1,807. Finally, there was Kenny Drew, Undercurrent, Blue Note 4059. This looked like an original pressing with the one sided deep groove, although there was some dispute about that among the commenters. I guess the pictures weren’t clear. It was a relatively new seller and the record and cover looked to be in M- condition. But the start price was quite high at $3,000 and there were no bids, so perhaps we will see this back on eBay with a lower price tag.
I’m back with a completely random batch of records that are currently for sale on eBay, starting with one of my favorite LPs, Jackie McLean, McLean’s Scene, New Jazz 8212. This is an original purple label deep groove pressing listed in VG+ condition for both the record and the cover. The bidding is in the $160 range with four days left. When I think of my favorite alto players, there’s Bird, of course, then Cannonball, then a small group of a few more who were able to create a distinct sound despite the overwhelming presence and influence of Bird. This relatively short list includes Jackie, Paul Desmond, Phil Woods and just a couple of others such as Ernie Henry, who died so young. Then there are Johnny Hodges, who came before Bird and was certainly distinct and marvelous, and Sonny Stitt, who sounded perhaps the most like Bird but could play his ass off and is almost always a joy to put on the turntable, for me at least. Anyway, just some alto musings off the top of my head on a bright Wednesday morning, inspired by McLean’s Scene.
Here are a few more listings sent to me by readers, starting with Walter Davis Jr., Davis Cup, Blue Note 4018. This was an original West 63rd Street pressing from our friends at Euclid Records. The record and cover were both listed in VG++ condition and the final price was $1,254.54. From the same seller was: Johnny Griffin, Volume 2, Blue Note 1559. This was also an original West 63rd Street pressing. The record was VG+ and the cover was only VG, yet it still sold for $1,166, which echoes the point I made the other day about condition being less relevant, as collectors seem to have evolved from wanting to listen to the record to wanting to own the record.
Another reader sent me a question about this record:
Whilst I was offline I missed a record that ended up in the $3,000 bin: Don Rendell Ian Carr Quintet, Shades of Blue, Columbia, 33SX 17333. This was an original 1965 UK pressing that was probably in VG++ or M- condition. The final price was $3,024.98. I only know of this record from watching it on eBay all these years. Is the music that good, or is there something else that is so appealing about this record that it would command such a high price?
One of our readers sent me a link to this record, noting that the price seems to be rising: Phil Woods, Warm Woods, Epic 3436. This copy was in VG++ condition for the record and VG+ for the cover. It sold for $605.55. Doesn’t seem that out of line for this record. If you look on Popsike, there are copies that have sold for higher prices, although probably in better condition. That’s one of the things that I’m noticing — for many of these classic records, condition is less of an issue than it used to be. Can’t help wondering if that is because people are collecting them to own them as opposed to listening to them.
Sorry for the long unexpected hiatus between posts. Been very busy with work and time just slipped away. Glad to see no one was worried about me. 🙂 Anyway, let’s look at where we left off with our eBay watch list, starting with: Sonny Clark, Leapin’ and Lopin’, Blue Note 4091. This was an original New York USA mono pressing. It was listed in M- condition for the record and VG++ for the cover. It sold for $908.76. We don’t recall ever seeing this record sell for more, but Popiske has a record of a copy selling for $1,144 in 2014. Wow. I guess it won’t be long before copies of this record will eventually be regulars in the $1,000 bin. First the ones in M- condition, then, over time, those in not-so-mint condition, if past patterns continue to hold forth in the future.
Perhaps this next one is also destined for the $1,000 bin. It keeps getting closer:
I was off eBay for a few days and missed a few big-ticket items, starting with Cliff Jordan and Jon Gilmore, Blowing in From Chicago, Blue Note 1549. This was an original pressing with the New York 23 logo. The record was listed in M- condition and the cover was VG+ with some water stains on the back. The final price was $2,200, the first time to my recollection that this record has ended up in the $2,000 bin. I still don’t own an original pressing of this record and it seems pretty obvious (to me at least) that I won’t be buying one on eBay. This one falls into the same category: Hank Mobley and Lee Morgan, Peckin’ Time, Blue Note 1574. This was an original pressing listed in M- condition for both the record and the cover. The final price was $2,750, not too bad for a seller with only 98% positive feedback.
The Jazz Record Center had an auction last week and I was keeping tabs on a few of their records, including: Sonny Clark, Cool Struttin’, Blue Note 1588. This was an original pressing with a weird variation: Both sides had he same label (Side 2). To me that would diminish the value, not sure why because the music is the same, but it just would. This one looked to be in M- condition for the record and probably VG++ for the cover. The final price was $2,500, so perhaps the label aberration effected the price, since we’ve often seen this record sell for more than $3,000 and occasionally more than $5,000. It used to be that the Jazz Record Center would get a premium on its records because of it’s reputation, but I find that is no longer the case. I had thought, perhaps, it was because they didn’t take Pay Pal, but now I notice that they do take Pay Pal. The action also included a bunch of 10-inch Blue Notes, which I love, including:
There was a time not all that long ago when obscure records with relatively abrasive – or at least not for the feint of heart – musical content didn’t break the bank or require a second mortgage on one’s house. This was even the case for the first several years of online record buying, when private-press free jazz LPs were, though rare, not a matter of renegotiating one’s financial well-being to obtain. Well, that period has been officially over for a while now, but nevertheless the hits keep coming and new price points are reached. Take, for example, the lone LP by the Black Unity Trio, Al-Fatihah, on their own Salaam imprint. It’s a scarce and in demand post-Ayler document out of Cleveland, Ohio featuring an early appearance of cellist/bassist Abdul Wadud, along with saxophonist Yusuf Mumin (of the Norman Howard group) and drummer Haasan Al-Hut. Most copies I’ve run across look like they’d been run over by a skateboard and tossed into a puddle. This one was better, with a grade of VG++ for the vinyl and probably a strong VG for the matte white cover. Nevertheless, $2,355 is nearly double the next highest price in the internet marketplace and there was a time several years ago when $400-$500 was a healthy number for this album. Not anymore! Read more