Three “victims” of the 50-Year Rule
A few weeks ago I got into an interesting email discussion with one of our loyal readers, Dave Sockel, who sent me an article about the plummeting market value of Elvis Presley collectibles, particularly old Elvis vinyl. Dave’s email came with the subject line: “A cautionary tale for all of us?” This was my reply:
“I remember reading something a few years ago — I think I posted on Jazz Collector — about a “50-year-rule” for artists. Basically, 50 years after the peak of the artist’s popularity and/or death, he or she is all but forgotten and the demand for their stuff starts to really erode. We’ve kind of seen it with the beboppers in Jazz, and a guy like Art Tatum. When I started collecting, Tatum records were collectibles. Not any more.
So I placed some bids on the Omega Auctions auction last week. And I struck out completely. There was nothing in the collection that really caught my eye, but I wanted to participate to see if I could perhaps buy something at a lowball price. Part of it was the fun of being in the hunt; part of it was to understand the experience to share with you all here at Jazz Collector. So I went through the entire auction list and marked about a dozen items and put in bids that were low but not completely unreasonably, particularly if the action was light. I wasn’t able to do the auction live, so these were all online bids. If I had been able to do it live, who knows what would have happened. Here’s a bit of a summary: Read more
Well, I never made it to the 43rd Annual Jazz Record Collector’s Bash yesterday. I hope those that did make it had a good time and perhaps found some jazz vinyl or shellac gems. Instead, I wound up reorganizing the records in my New York apartment. Don’t ask. There was no need to reorganize, I just enjoy doing it. It gives me a chance to re-explore what I have and discover records I either forgot I owned or purchased or, for some reason, never got around to putting on the turntable. Yesterday, the record that wound up going on the turntable for the first time was Richie Kamuca Quartet on Mode, Mode LP 102. No idea why I chose this because Kamuca is not someone I’ve really listened closely to very often. Turns out to be an excellent record, with Carl Perkins on piano, Leroy Vinnegar on bass and Stan Level on drums, recorded in June 1957 in Hollywood.
It felt so good clearing out portions of my inbox yesterday, I’m going to the same today, starting with a couple of items about one of my heroes, Sonny Rollins. The first comes from an article by Amanda Petrusich in the New Yorker from April 5. (I told you I was way behind on my email). It is about a movement, now in its early stages, to rename the Williamsburg Bridge in honor of Sonny. The Sonny Rollins Bridge: Now this is an idea we can all get behind. The idea is the brainchild of a guy named Jeff Caltabiano, who has established something called The Sonny Rollins Bridge Project. When we get a chance we will reach out and find out if he has made any progress. Read more
Here’s an interesting opportunity: An auction house in the U.K. is auctioning a private jazz collection on Tuesday June 27 and there are options for individuals to bid live, either online or by telephone. The auction house is Omega Auctions and music is one of the areas in which they specialize. The collection belonged to a collector named B.W. Duncan and, of you are interested, you can read his bio here. As for the records themselves: There are quite a large number of Blue Notes, offered as individual pieces, such as Eric Dolphy Out To Lunch or Herbie Hancock My Point of View. There are also Blue Note packages sold in lots, such as an Art Blakey lot or a Horace Silver/Lee Morgan lot. Many of the records in the collection are U.K. pressings. It looks like there are 260 lots in all. It’s worth taking a look at the auction, but make sure to read the instructions if you want to bid because you have to set things up in advance and you have to pay some fairly hefty fees. Read more
Regular contributor Daryl Parks posed an interesting question about auctions versus buy-it-now listings on eBay. From the beginning here at Jazz Collector we have focused on auctions. Not sure why, but that was how I always did business on eBay, when I did do business on eBay, both as a buyer and as a seller. Daryl was helping a friend with some listings of jazz records, and the friend preferred buy-it-now, particularly for what he described as “big ticket” items, in this case original Blue Note pressings from Curtis Fuller and Jutta Hipp. His explanation, as explained by Daryl: “Buy-it-now attracts different types of buyers who prefer to avoid roller-coasters and unpredictability while resulting in predictable outcomes for the seller; he has always had great success with this approach.” Read more
Some of you may recall that I had a bad reaction to the election in November and had a bit of a breakdown, totally justified as subsequent events would have it. One thing that helped me through the worst of it was going to the Doc NYC festival and seeing a new John Coltrane documentary called “Chasing Trane.” It was a beautiful and inspirational film that helped me heal and even sent me on a more spiritual path, which surprised the hell out of me. Here’s the original essay I posted on Nov. 25: “Chasing Trane: A Review, An Appreciation, A Spiritual Awakening.”
The essay found its way to the writer and director of “Chasing Trane,” John Scheinfeld, who sent me a lovely follow-up note telling me that he had shared the piece with many people, including Bill Clinton. He even used the word: “Bravo.” I was quite thrilled. Now “Chasing Trane” is set to make it’s theatrical release: It opens this Friday at the IFC Center in New York and the following week in Los Angeles, followed by a broader release across the country. I can’t wait to see it again and I’m strongly encouraging all of you to see it as soon as you get the chance.
In anticipation of the rollout, the film’s publicists reached out to see if I would be interested in doing an interview with Scheinfeld. Of course. So we did call a couple of weeks ago. It was supposed to be 20 minutes but it lasted 40. Scheinfeld was eloquent and passionate and it was exciting for me to learn about the creative process that went into making this wonderful tribute to one of my heroes. A summary of our conversation follows. All direct quotes are Scheinfeld’s. Read more
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?
I’ve had several interesting jazz-related experiences over the past few weeks, but I’ve been so busy with my real work I haven’t had a chance to share them with you. Until now.
Number One: I had cousins visiting from England. One of them had never been to New York before. He’s a musician and wanted to see some music. It was a Monday night. Go to just about any city, and seeing good jazz on a Monday night would be a difficult proposition. But this was New York. There were many choices, but for me there was only one: The Vanguard, of course, with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, which is still the Thad Jones – Mel Lewis Orchestra to me. I hadn’t been to the Vanguard on a Monday night in probably 10 years, which is kind of ridiculous when you think about it since it is only a 20-minute subway ride away from my apartment. Anyway, I went online for reservations and it was sold out. Same thing when I called. We went anyway, arriving early. And we got in. The band was in fine form. They had just finished doing their annual weekly gig at the Vanguard, and seemed particularly tight. The band’s personnel has evolved over the years, but there were definitely a lot of familiar faces, including the tenor player Ralph LaLama, from whom I once took about four lessons 30 years ago. Somehow, I didn’t think he’d remember me, at least not fondly, so I didn’t actually say hello. But I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and would highly recommend a visit to the Vanguard, particularly on a Monday night, to anyone visiting New York. But, if you can, make reservations early. It seems to be a destination for jazz lovers from all around the world.
The other day I was listening to Giant Steps, yet again, and this time I pulled out the album and re-read the liner notes. I was amazed at the prescience and knowledge of the writer. Here are the first two paragraphs:
“Along with sonny Rollins, John Coltrane has become the most influential and controversial tenor saxophonist inn modern jazz. He is becoming, in fact, more controversial and possibly more influential than Rollins. While it’s true that to musicians especially, Coltrane’s fiercely adventurous harmonic imagination is the most absorbing aspect of his developing style, the more basic point is that for many non-musician listeners, Coltrane at his best has an unusually striking emotional impact. There is such intensity in his playing that the string of adjectives employed by French Critic Gerard Bremond in a Jazz-Hot article on Coltrane seemed hardly at all exaggerated. Bremond called his playing ‘exuberant, furious, impassioned, thundering.’
“There is also, however, an extraordinary amount of sentimentality in Coltrane’s work. Part of the fury in much of his playing is the fury of the search, the obsession Coltrane has to play all he can hear or would like to hear — often all at once — and yet at the same time make his music, as he puts it, ‘more presentable.’ He said recently, ‘I’m worried that sometimes what I’m doing sounds like just academic exercises and I’m trying more and more to make it sound prettier.’ It seems to me he already succeeds often in accomplishing both his aims, as sections of this album demonstrate.”
I looked down at the bottom to see which Jazz journalist had written this piece back in 1959 and, to no surprise at all, it was the great Nat Hentoff. When I woke up this morning, there was news in The New York Times that Nat Hentoff had died at age 91.