Have I ever mentioned that The Lovely Mrs. JC is a psychotherapist by profession? You’d think after 35 years of marriage to a shrink I’d have been somewhat cured of my vinyl obsession by now. Anyway, The Lovely Mrs. JC returned home from her practice that Monday evening and we sat down to have a quiet dinner and chat. We had many things to talk about and the record collection wasn’t foremost on her mind and, in fact, I had made such little light of the prospects for this collection that it seemed to have slipped her mind completely. So I had to bring it up.
“You know I saw that record collection today,” I said, quite casually.
“Oh, yeah,” she said. “Anything of interest?”
“Yes, it was pretty interesting,” I said.
We sat in silence for a few seconds.
“There’s a chance I may be buying it,” I finally said.
She stared at me in stunned disbelief.
I smiled a sheepish smile and held up three fingers.
Her eyes popped out of her head. “Three hundred records! How can you buy three hundred more records!”
So I mentioned the other day that I recently purchased a record collection. Here is the story.
A few weeks ago a woman sent me the following e-mail:
“I’m wondering if you can help me. My dad passed away suddenly in an accident. He left a huge jazz collection of approximately 2500+ vinyl albums. He died at 82 and was a jazz enthusiastic since his teens and his collection dates back to then. To his great disappointment I did not share his passion for jazz. I am interested in selling his collection. How can I go about finding its value? I’ve read some of the information on your blog and realize I need to consult an expert. Any guidance you can give would be greatly appreciated.”
I get emails like this fairly often now that I do Jazz Collector. They usually don’t turn out to be much. I generally look to help people over e-mail and my advice if they have anything collectible is to usually tell them to try to sell the records on eBay. I’m not necessarily looking to purchase collections: I’m still a collector and not a dealer and I have way more records than I have places to keep them. Some of you, Rudolf I’m sure, may even recall that I began a project several years ago to pare down my collection, which I grandly labeled The Great Jazz Vinyl Countdown. Needless to say that project is quite defunct.
I just logged onto eBay and as I was signing in this record was closing: Meet Oliver Nelson, New Jazz 8224. It was an original pressing with the purple label and deep grooves, featuring Kenny Dorham on trumpet. It looked to be in M- condition for the record and probably VG++ for the cover. The price was $157.50. I have an interest in this record because I was just looking at a copy in my apartment, where it is among a batch of original records I have just scored. There was a time, many of you will remember, when I was talking of scaling back my collecting and doing a Great Jazz Vinyl Countdown, but I still can’t seem to give up the habit — addiction? — of buying more records. This batch in front of me is quite cool. On the top is an original pressing of Cool Struttin’ by Sonny Clark and just below that is an original pressing of Soundin’ Off by Dizzy Reece. Someday soon I will share the story of this particular score but, in the meantime, I have some records to clean, including Meet Oliver Nelson on New Jazz, worth as much as $157.50.
In an earlier post, Rudolf poses the following statement and question: “Al announced the slimming down of his collection a while ago. But I don’t see anything else but buying records by the lot, ‘improving’ on quality, etc., etc. Al: I just would like an honest reply to my straightforward question (the lovely Mrs. JC is not tuned in, so your reply can be honest). The question: With how many albums has your collection grown since your slimming down action?”
I will answer the question directly and then go into some level of explanation. Since the launch of what I affectionately called The Great Jazz Vinyl Countdown almost exactly a year ago – September 29, 2009, if anyone would like to go back to the archives – I would say that my “collection” has increased by about 50 records, while the number of records in my house has grown by several hundred, at least.
So I went through this whole process of cataloguing my Blue Notes a few weeks ago. It was quite interesting and, if you’ve been following my adventures, you will recall that it led to (yet another) existential crisis. More on that later. For now: In going through my Blue Notes I came to the realization that some records I thought I owned as original pressings were not originals. This is fine, except for the ones that are blue label late pressing Blue Notes, of which, unfortunately, Jackie McClean, Bluesnik, Blue Note 4067, was one. This, I thought, was a record that needed to be replaced by a better copy — i.e., an earlier pressing that wouldn’t cause me to hang my head in disgust every time I looked at it. With a blue label Blue Note, no matter how good the record, I was never going to listen to it, period. The problem, however, is that Bluesnik is now selling
How do you place a value on an album like this: Sonny Rollins Quartet, Prestige 137? Here’s my story: I purchased a copy of this record about 25 years ago as part of a large collection. It is quite, quite rare, Sonny is one of my favorite artists and it has this great cover picture of him from the early 1950s with slicked-back hair and a wisp of a mustache. A real beauty, right? However, the copy I owned was in pretty poor shape and a few years ago I picked up a near mint copy on eBay for $200. Actually, it was advertised as near mint and it’s not near mint, but that’s another story. So I’ve been sitting with two copies of this record, one in poor shape, and as I’ve been trying to weed doubles out of my collection, I’ve put this one aside and avoided making a decision. For some reason, this week
I was poring through my records the other day and stopped for a moment on this one: Max Roach Four Plays Charlie Parker, Mercury SR 80019. I’ve had this record for a while and haven’t listened to it in years, but it struck me as such: It features two of the great stalwarts of the Blue Note catalogue — Hank Mobley and Kenny Dorham — both in their primes; it has a great cover and a great concept. Yet, it is not really high on any list of collectible records and, in fact, we have never once even tagged it in the Jazz Collector Price Guide, which means we haven’t really seen it sell for a collectible price in the past seven years. And it struck me: What if this record, with this personnel, in this era — 1958 or so — had been issued on Blue Note? What would it be worth? Why is there such a profound difference between the value of a record like this, on the Mercury label, and a record with similar personnel in the same era from the Blue Note era? I think these are rhetorical questions, but I’m happy
Sometimes you forget to listen to great records, right? You have a limited amount of time to listen, and there are all the other great records, and then there are the other records that have never made it to your turntable and you figure they deserve a chance as well. And, what happens, at least to me, is that some of the great records get buried on the shelf and sometimes go years without being heard. So this week I’ve been going through my Blue Notes and I had about an hour yesterday to just sit and listen and I decided it was time to take one of those records off the shelf and put it on. The record I chose: Dexter Gordon, Doin’ All Right, Blue Note 4077. And I put it on, the first track, I Was Doing All Right, and I smiled instantly and said quietly to myself, “Oh, yeah.” Oh yeah, as in
Friends, my name is Al and I am a vinyl addict. It is necessary for me to confess once again because I have had yet another setback. Remember my mission to pare down my collection, which I have labeled The Great Jazz Vinyl Countdown? Well, as part of that endeavor I decided it would be wise to take inventory of my records so that I would know what I actually have, in intimate detail: Record, condition, provenance, value. I had never actually done this before, so yesterday I set up a spreadsheet and began the process. I started, naturally, with the Blue Notes, the 1500 series, Blue Note 1501, Miles Davis Volume 1. I pulled the record off the shelf, looked at the record, cleaned it, typed the information into the spreadsheet, put it back on the shelf and then pulled the second record, Blue Note 1502, Miles Davis Volume 2. Same deal: Looked at the record, cleaned it, wrote it down, then moved on to the next record.
What a mistake.
I was moving along fine through the first eight records in the
This is a test of whether I am willing to cut close to the bone in this Jazz Vinyl Countdown upon which I have embarked. This is the record in question: Miles Davis, Early Miles, Prestige 7168. This is a yellow label pressing with the deep groove and RVG in the deadwax and it’s in very nice condition, at least VG++ on the vinyl. Plus it has a promo stamp on the back. So why is this record even in contention to be discarded? Well, the music was previous issued on 10-inch LPs and, more notably, on the 12-inch LP Miles Davis Plus Horns, Prestige 7025. I recently obtained a very nice original pressing of Miles Davis Plus Horns. So, the question I’m asking myself: Does that make Early Miles extraneous. In the old days, the answer would have been a clear NO WAY! Today, however