I wasn’t actually planning to write anything about my recent jazz vinyl acquisitions but, of course, my excitement and enthusiasm took over and I couldn’t resist. I have this idea of writing a Jazz Collector book – I’ve already begun – and the story of some of these record scores is going to be a central theme so I’m trying to save them. However, I mentioned it so now I have to embellish a little bit so I don’t leave you all tantalized. It started with a simple inquiry from a guy in Canada who was asking for advice about selling some records he had inherited. It almost always starts that way. I get inquiries like these three or four times a week. He said he had looked on Jazz Collector and it seemed that some of the records he owned were quite valuable – Blue Notes, he said, and they seemed original. I told him his best bet was to get Fred Cohen’s book, try to gauge the value of the records, and sell them himself on eBay. He said that’s what he was going to do and thanked me. I thought that was the end of it. But it wasn’t.
In the comments on the previous post, Erich Schultz suggests we talk about Columbia and other labels where the music is great but the records are not as collectible. In the case of Columbia there are nice records that are collectible as well: Who’d have thought that Kind of Blue, which I think is the biggest selling jazz album ever, would be a collectible, but it is, if you can find mint original pressings, or original promo copies. We’ve seen Kind of Blue sell for more than $1,300 in the Jazz Collector Price Guide.
Anyway, Erich’s comments got me to thinking about some of my favorite records on Columbia and other labels, so I thought I’d do a quick post on these. This is all off the top of my head because my records are all over the place these days, so here are one, two or three favorites per label, just for fun. I’m sure I’ll miss many favorites, but that’s why we have comments on this site to make amends and amendments.
Atlantic: John Coltrane, Giant Steps (too obvious, right?). I also have a fondness for LaVern Baker Sings Bessie Smith and Charles Mingus Blues and Roots.
Argo: Art Farmer, Art
Bethlehem: Charlie Rouse and Paul Quinichette, The Chase is On; Dexter Gordon, Daddy Plays the Horn
Blue Note: We’ve been down this road before: I’m sticking with Art Blakey, Buhaina’s Delight and Freddie Redd, Shades of Redd. Perhaps throw in Donald Byrd’s A New Perspective and Horace Silver’s Song for My Father or Blowin’ the Blues Away in honor of my dad.
Columbia: Miles Davis, Kind of Blue and ‘Round Midnight (OK, I’m still being obvious, but really, how can you go against these records). Thelonious Monk, Criss Cross
Contemporary: Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders (yes, most people prefer Way Out West; I prefer this one); Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section
Decca: Billie Holiday, Lover Man
Emarcy: Brown and Roach, Inc., Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street; Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown
Impulse: John Coltrane at Birdland (A Love Supreme would be the obvious Trane, but I prefer this one); Oliver Nelson, Blues and the Abstract Truth; Coltrane Ballads
Jazzland: Johnny Griffin and Lockjaw Davis, Lookin’ at Monk
New Jazz: Eric Dolphy, Outward Bound, Jackie McLean, McLean’s Scene, Kenny Dorham, Quiet Kenny
Norgran/Clef: The Tal Farlow Album (10-inch); The President Plays with the Oscar Peterson Trio; Stan Getz Plays; Bird with Strings
Pacific Jazz: Chet Baker Sings; Gerry Mulligan plays Mulligan
Prestige: Sonny Rollins, Worktime, Tenor Madness, Plus Four; Coltrane, Soultrane
Riverside: Cannonball Adderley Live at the Lighthouse; Bill Evans, Waltz for Debby
Roost: Sonny Stitt and the New Yorkers
Savoy: All of the Birds
Verve: Ella and Louis; Tal Farlow, The Swinging Guitar; Ben Webster and Art Tatum
Sorry I’ve been posting so irregularly. I’ve been in the throes of moving for the past few weeks and it’s been quite intense. I’ve actually been moving my records to three locations: My new apartment in the city, my new house in the country and my storage facility. Right now, the only records still in the house are those that are being sold at the estate sale, which begins tomorrow, and are being sold for $1 or $2 each. There may be some finds in there, but not too much. I had room for about 1,500 records in the city, so I went through my collection and pulled out a bunch of records that didn’t fit. Some are in storage, some are in the country. Also, I boxed up all of my 78s — I have at least 1,000, maybe more — as well as my 10-inch records and put those in storage as well, until a figure out where to put them. It’s been a process, to say the least. When you go through this, as many of you inevitably will, it does make you question the sanity of keeping so many records and figuring out what to do with them. I mean, it’s quite nice to have all of the Arnett Cobb records on Prestige because they are Prestige and they are original and they have that ’50s/’60s air about them, but when the time comes for me to listen to a tenor player, will Arnett Cobb ever again make it to my turntable?
Last week I was driving along the Cross Island Parkway in Queens with the lovely Mrs. JC when she turned to me seriously and said that it was time to discuss what I wanted for my birthday, which happens to be today. I couldn’t think of anything and, in her always infinite wisdom, she asked what I loved to do. “I love to buy records.” What else? Of course, she said, that’s what we’ll do. So today the lovely Mrs. JC and I are heading into Manhattan to have lunch with our two junior JCs and then we are going downtown to the Jazz Record Center on 26th Street where I have carte blanche to purchase any record(s) of my choosing (plus the new Blue Note Guide). I must say that through the years I have never been much of a customer Read more
Mattyman tells the story of the Blue Mitchell record and the rude and competitive and somewhat nasty rival who bid the price up for no reason other than in the hope that Mattyman would put the record down and he would lay claim to it. Good for Mattyman to not fall for the bait and to go home with a great record at a reasonable price. We all have stories such as this. I have many of them, unfortunately. The one I recall most vividly is this, which I may have already told in another context but is worth repeating anyway: I was working my first record show back in the mid-1980s, when there were record shows often in the New York area. There were also many record stores as well, so it was quite a vibrant market. I had bought my friend’s collection and had duplicates for the first time and I was just trying to get rid of some records. I haven’t come very far since then, come to think of it.
Anyway, as happened once in a while those days, a guy came in with crates of rare records and had absolutely no idea of their value. No idea at all. New records were selling for $7.99 in stores, or something like that, so he figured used records must be $5 or so. So he priced all of his records at $5. This included Tina Brooks True Blue; Lee Morgan Candy; Hank Mobley’s Message, 1 and 2; and many, many others too numerous to name. The guy was at a table near me, and I would have pounced, but I never got the chance. As he was getting the records out of his car, two of the top New York dealers of the day accosted him, convinced him to show them the records and pulled out all of the valuables before they made their way into the room.
This is a completely random post. At the WFMU Record Fair last week I was selling a copy of Miles Davis Steamin’ on Prestige and got into a discussion with a buyer and he said, of the Steamin’/Workin’/Cookin’/Relaxin’ group of albums that Steamin’ was his least favorite. I said, hmm, that’s interesting because Steamin’ is my favorite of the group. He eventually purchased Steamin’ from me and I’m hoping he’s pleased. In any case, I’m sitting here in my home office/music room staring at my records and thinking about some of my favorites from among the artists where I have (1) a lot a records and (2) clear favorites. Looking through the records, I realized for some artists – such as Lee Morgan, Hank Mobley even Horace Silver – I don’t have any single record that stands above the others. If pressed, I could name a favorite, which I will not do for those artists, but which I will do for some of the other artists where the choices, for me at least, are more clearcut. Some may be obvious, some more obscure, some may even be ridiculous to others, but these are the ones I like. Staring at my collection, looking at them in alphabetical order, here goes nothing:
So, after more than an hour of live rock music blasting in my ears, I decided to bag it at the WFMU Record Fair after Saturday, so I packed my records, loaded them in my Prius and drove them home. But what was I to do with them next? There were a dozen boxes of records, probably 700 altogether, plus another 500 or 600 records already in the house or in storage that are to be sold. I’ve bought three collections in the past year, and I have at least that many duplicates or reissues or records I simply don’t want. Previously, I’ve been selling records on eBay, but my real work has gotten quite busy and I’m not doing that anymore, so it seemed I was facing the prospect of just putting all of these records in storage and waiting another year for the next WFMU Record Fair so I could sell 100 of them while getting bombarded with close range music of mass destruction.
It is at times like this when I wish I had a record store.
Then, on Sunday morning at 6 a.m., on what would have been Day Three of the WFMU Record Fair, I woke up startled with a clear revelation. I would
I mentioned that my table was towards the back at the WFMU Record Fair this weekend. There were some clear disadvantages to this location. For one, the front of the room was mobbed and there was a lot of jazz at almost every table, so by the time people made it to my side of the room – if, indeed, they did make it at all – they were pretty jazzed out, and perhaps even all spent out with no more cash in their wallets. The second disadvantage to my location was the unfortunate reality that it was close to where the WFMU people had set up their live broadcast, which meant there was loud music and gab incessantly in my ears from 10 in the morning through the day. All of which was pretty bad.
And then it got worse.
Sometime in the later afternoon, perhaps 3 p.m. or so, they decided to have live music: Yes a rock band, followed by another rock band, each one trying to out-noise the other. Or so it seemed to these delicate, jazz-oriented ears. Loud doesn’t begin to describe what it was like at my table. The Read more
So yesterday was Day One of the WFMU Record Fair in New York City and I purchased a dealer table to sell of duplicates from my collection and other odds and ends and this was my experience.
There was a time, when I was an compulsive buyer of records – as opposed to now, when I am merely an obsessive buyer of records – when I would purchase a dealer’s table at a record show just so that I could show up early and look at the other dealers’ records before anyone else. I’d get there and hover while dealers of jazz records would be unpacking their wares and I could get first shot at their offerings. Don’t laugh – I got some mighty nice records this way.
Now, however, I am more serene about it. I didn’t get there yesterday until 3:30 and the show opened at four to early arrivals so I barely had time to even look. In fact, I convinced myself that the only reason I was looking at all was so that I could write about it here at Jazz Collector. I even made certain that I would not be buying either compulsively or obsessively or both: I only brought $100.
So at 3:30 I began roaming the floor with my $100. What struck me was that just about every table had jazz records: Some a box or two, some had many, many boxes. And it was a lot of the stuff
I brought home another collection yesterday. It is an interesting one. It is mostly traditional jazz, but of more recent vintage. There was the full three-volume Mosaic Commodore set in near mint condition. That alone will cover my costs and the time and energy I expended. There were also a lot of 78s, mostly albums in beautiful condition – Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Lee Wiley, and others of that ilk, no bebop at all. There were also some nice 10-inch LPs in near mint condition, including a beautiful Lester Young on Clef and several of the Chet Baker’s on Pacific Jazz.
As I was laboriously going through the records on my porch in The Berkshires yesterday, much to the consternation of the lovely Mrs. JC, I discovered that there were about a dozen 12-inch Blue Note 78s – Sidney Bechet, Albert Ammons, etc. These are in