I did the Jazz Collector Web site and newsletter for about a year and a half in 2004 and 2005 and abandoned my loyal readers to start another business. I almost came back a year ago, but didn’t. Now I’m trying again. This time it should stick. — Al Perlman
We took an unexpected break for a couple of days. Sorry about that. Here’s a note from a new subscriber:
“Al: Just discovered you site tonight and have been happily reading your commentaries and exploring your links for the last couple of hours. I expect to lear a lot from you and your correspondents and will contribute what expertise I can offer. I have been collecting jazz and classical records for 30 years. Am a member of IAJRC and a frequent bidder on eBay and mail order auction lists. I have about 4,000 LPs and 3,500 CDs. Mine is not the largest library, but it’s the one I want to have because the items in it are a picked lot. I specialize in small group Swing, Cool and Hard Bop. Particularly dig mainstream tenor saxophonists active from ’50 to ’70 and their modern successors. In your 7/01/05 Riffs you suggested eBay sellers should buy a professional record cleaner. I don’t plan to auction off my collection, but I would like to get such a machine, in order to clean some of my LPs. Do you or any of your readers know where I can buy one? Best, John Herr.”
I replied that I’m very happy with my VPI cleaner, the HW-16.5, which sells for $500 or so. I recommended he do a Google search on record cleaners and, specifically, VPI. In doing my own search I discovered some record cleaners in the $3,000 and up range. Curious if anyone out there has ever used one of these high-end cleaners and whether they do that much more to clean up the sound than the $500 models. If you have any comments, post them on the site.
I’m always looking for information on records I see on eBay that I haven’t seen before, either online or in real life. I’ve been collecting jazz records for more than 35 years and have spent thousands of hours poring through record stores all over the U.S. and in parts of Europe, yet I still come across items that are new to me. Here’s one from eBay the other day: Eric Dolphy, Conversations, FM 308. This was a sealed Stereo pressing sold by Atomic Records for $317.90. It had five separate bidders and was sold to ondemand12, one of the big eBay jazz buyers. Read more
As we go through records preparing to sell them on eBay, we always seem to find a few that fail to list the accompanying musicians. When this happens, we go through our source material to try to fill in the blanks. Among the resources we use most often are The Jazz Discography by Tom Lord, which we have on CD-ROM; various Internet sites, such as The All Music Guide; plus several discographies we have in our collection, including those for Blue Note, Savoy, Prestige, Verve, Clef and Norgran.
Whenever we find this information we will post it on the Website. So here are some of our recent findings: Read more
Many dealers, including our partner AJ Doctor, use the Goldmine Grading Guide as a guideline to grading records. Goldmine is a biweekly record collectors magazine in the United States that also publishes price guides. The following is an excerpt from their Grading Guide:
Mint (M): Absolutely perfect in every way – certainly never played, possibly even still sealed. Should be used sparingly as a grade, if at all.
Near Mint (NM or M-): A nearly perfect record. Many dealers won’t give a grade higher than this implying (perhaps correctly) that no record is ever truly perfect. The record should show no obvious signs of wear. An LP jacket should have no creases, folds, seam splits or any other noticeable similar defect. No cut-out holes either. And of course, the same should be true of any other inserts, such as posters, Read more
I couldn’t sleep again the other night so I went into my music room and started poring through the batch of 115 Downbeat and Metronome magazines I bought at the WFMU Record Show in New York last week. Most of the magazines are from the 1940s and 1950s, with a few Downbeats from the 1960s thrown in. I love these things because they give you a real view of the history of jazz as it was happening. I’m always surprised that so few people seem to be collecting the old magazines. It’s okay, because the prices are always reasonable and it would be nice if they stay that way. Anyway, over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some of the interesting items I find as I go through the magazines. Here are a few snippets: Read more
(This is the first in an occasional, sporadic and perhaps-never ending series of confessions by Al Perlman)
My name is Al. I’m a vinyl addict.
Last year, I thought I had it beaten. I had turned 50, quit my job and decided to move to a smaller house. It was time to downsize. No one really needs 12,000 records, right? I went through each record one by one and decided which would stay and which would go. I was ruthless. If a record wasn’t in nice condition it was Read more
One of the great things about selling the records on eBay is making contact with a wide group of people with varied experiences. One of the customers got into a riff about the late bassist and composer Charles Mingus, which brought me back 30 years, to the time when I was a young reporter for the Syracuse New Times and was asked to interview Mingus and review his concert a local club called Jabberwocky. I went through my files and dug up the article, from 1973, when I was just 20 years old. There’s something to be said for saving everything. Anyway, here it is, just the way it appeared 30 years ago, with just a couple of paragraphs deleted for brevity.
It’s always surprised me that jazz collectors seem to place only marginal value in autographed albums or other memorabilia. There are exceptions of course: A Charlie Parker signature on a contract or a Billie Holiday inscription on a book are extraordinarily rare collectibles that fetch a small fortune whenever they appear on eBay or on auction lists from dealers.
But my experience is that autographs don’t necessarily do much to enhance the value of a collectible. To test this, I recently did a search of completed auctions on eBay in the category of jazz using the key word “autographed.” The results confirmed my theory:
Sonny Stitt, The Complete Roost Sonny Stitt Studio Sessions, Mosaic Records MD9-208
By Al Perlman
I am an unabashed fan of Mosaic records. No company does a better job mining and repackaging the treasures of recorded jazz. From Mosaic’s beginnings in 1983 the company has focused on producing comprehensive boxed sets that document periods or styles of music from either specific artists or record labels. From the comprehensive liner notes to the annotated discographies to the intricate remastering of the original recordings, each set is a gem.
What I also appreciate as a Jazz Collector is that the Mosaic releases have always represented a great investment: The company produces limited editions of all its releases (with one or two exceptions) and once the designated number of copies are sold, that’s it, no more are released. This has created a strong Read more