I tend to be fairly knowledgeable when it comes to jazz records, so it is always a pleasant surprise when I find something brand new to me. Case in point: Ahmad Jamal Plays, Parrot Records 55-245. It was surprising to see any Ahmad Jamal record fetching a collectible price, let alone one I had never seen from a label I had never heard of. A quick Google search tells us that Parrot Records was in existence only from 1953 to 1956 and mostly issued 78s and 45s. In fact, according to Wikipedia, this Jamal record was the only 12-inch LP issued by the label. This copy is listed in VG++ or M- condition for the record and G+ or VG- for the cover. There is one bid at $300 and the auction closes in a few hours.
I was watching some early Blue Notes on eBay, including the very first 12-inch LP in the 1500 series: Miles Davis, Volume 1, Blue Note 1501. This was an original Lexington Avenue pressing with the deep grooves, flat edge, frame cover and all of the other indicators of a first pressing. The record and cover were both in M- condition. Quite a gem, it seems. The final price was $622.89. I haven’t updated the Jazz Collector Price Guide in quite a while, but I do remember seeing a copy of this record sell for more than $1,000 at one time, but that seemed to be the exception rather than the rule. Popsike shows two copies selling for more than $1,000. I would assume that most collectors would treasure these albums, but for some reason there’s something that feels “less original” about the albums whose content was original released on 78 or 1-inch LP. They also don’t sound as well as the later 12-inch records produced for the vinyl format, do they?
Here’s one you don’t see very often. In fact, I don’t recall every writing about this record before: Wade Legge, New Faces, New Sounds, Blue Note 5031. This is an original Lexington Avenue 10-inch pressing. The record and cover are both listed in Ex condition by a very reputable seller. The bidding is in the $280 range with about four days left on the auction. Wade Legge was not recorded very often and died young, at just 29 years of age. I just did a Google search and, it turns out, with shared the same birthday. I am a big fan of his playing on a couple of Sonny Rollins albums, Rollins Plays for Bird and Sonny Boy. I didn’t recall that he was on the Charles Mingus Tonight at Noon Album, so I will have to go back and listen to that, as well as a couple of others. I highly doubt that I will be getting the 10-inch Blue Note record anytime soon, given that I never see it and typically avoid paying top dollar on eBay.
This is also one I don’t see very often, but I’ve never viewed it as a record that was particularly favored by collectors:
We’re watching a few auctions from the seller bullsite2000, including Billy Taylor, Cross Section, Prestige 7071. This is an original New York yellow label pressing. It looks like the record is in about VG++ condition and the cover is M-. The bidding is in the $90 range and the auction closes later today. Typically, you don’t see any Billy Taylor records selling for high prices. This particular record seems to be somewhat of an exception, selling for more than $200 several times on Popsike. We’ll see what this one goes for. I like the picture on the cover, which is one of the reasons I’m mentioning here at Jazz Collector: It’s not often that I get to use a Billy Taylor Prestige cover with one of my posts, and this one has the old record player, the tube amp and the old records. Wouldn’t you like to own the records on THAT shelf. This is another one with a great cover: Jay Jay Johnson Sextet, Blue Note 5028. This is an original 10-inch Lexington Avenue pressing. The record looks to be in VG+ condition and the cover VG++. It is also closing today. The bidding is in the $250 range.
Here’s a sampling of email from the past few days. We start with our old reliable friend CeeDee who sent us four links under the subject line: “‘Give me Liberty or give me . . . uh, can I get back to you on that?’ plus two.” One of the links was one that we’ve previously written about: Wayne Shorter, Adam’s Apple, Blue Note 4232. This was the original mono pressing with the shrink wrap that sold for, gulp, $997.50. Next was Lee Morgan, the Gigolo, Blue Note 4212. This was also a mono Liberty pressing. I had never considered this to be a collectible Blue Note, but perhaps I’ll have to change my assessment. This one looked to be in VG++ condition for the record and VG+ for the cover. It sold for $417.
So this auction closed the other day: Hank Mobley, Blue Note 1568. This was in VG++ condition for he record and M- for the cover and did not have the New York 23 label. The final price was $5,127.51. Interesting that the following record, from the same era, is somehow valued at more than $4,000 less than the Mobley: Cliff Jordan, Blue Note 1565. This was also an original pressing, probably in VG++ condition for the record and maybe VG+ or VG++ for the cover. It sold for $897.69. Still a hefty price for sure, but still the discrepancy is quite a spread. Do you think there are really that many fewer copies of the Mobley available on the market? Or is it hype that the Mobley record is widely known as one of the rarest of the rare? Or is it that the Mobley simply a better record? There’s really no way to make judgments about these things, IMHO: The market is the market and that’s what decides the value. So, whatever the reason, the market has deemed Blue Note 1568 to be perhaps the most valuable jazz record of the Jazz Collector era. Ours is not to reason why, ours is just to sell and buy (or something like that).
Clifford had mentioned this in a comment on one of the posts from earlier this week: Barney Wilen Quintet, Guilde Du Jazz J-1239. This is an original pressing that looks to be in VG++ condition for both the record and the cover. The bidding is close to $400 with two days left, but it has not yet reached the seller’s reserve price. We’ve seen some very high prices for this record in the past, including one that approached $3,000, although that seemed to be an aberration. Still, we expect to see a fairly high price tag on this one, given the condition. If you miss out on that one there’s another original copy of the same record closing a couple of days later. This one isn’t quite in the same condition. The record is graded Ex and the cover is VG. The start price is about $700 and so far there are no bidders.
What was I thinking when I traded away a copy of the following record more than 30 years ago?
Here’s one for you: Joe Henderson, Page One, Blue Note 4140. This was an original New York USA mono pressing. It was listed in Ex condition for the record and the cover. Certainly not mint minus or near mint or anything close to mint. It sold for $1,108.33.
From the same seller: Harold Vick, Steppin’ Out, Blue Note 4138. This was also an original mono pressing with the New York USA label. It was listed in Ex+ condition for the record and M- for the cover. It sold for $621.92.
Mal Waldron, Left Alone, Bethlehem 6045. This was an original red label pressing. The record was probably VG+ and the cover was listed as VG. The final price was $745.55.
We are watching some real heavy-duty collectibles on eBay now, starting with Hank Mobley, Blue Note 1568. This is one of those quasi-original originals depending upon your point of view. Translation: It doesn’t have the New York 23 on one side of the label. Whether that makes it less original is probably not the point. What we have learned over the years is that it makes it slightly less valuable to collectors. No tears are being shed for this seller, however. The record looks to be in around VG++ condition and the cover is M-. The bidding is more than $2,600 with less than a day left. This copy has been around the block a few times, and is the same one that ostensibly would have sold for more than $11,000 back in 2015 but obviously did not actually sell at that time. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the goings on at eBay, even for someone like myself who follows things fairly closely.
One of our readers sent me a link to this listing from a few weeks ago, using the word “insanity” as a modifier: Wayne Shorter, Adam’s Apple, Blue Note 4232. This was a Liberty pressing. It was in VG++ condition for the record and the cover. There was some original shrink wrap on the cover, which perhaps is a big deal for someone. For me, well I just rip it off and throw it in the garbage. Anyway, this record sold for $997.65. That’s right, the very cusp of the $1,000 bin. Question: Does anyone recall ever seeing a Liberty Blue Note selling for this amount of money before? I don’t.