Guest Column: Adventures in Jazz Collecting, Atlanta Variety

Jazz Collection AtlantaBy Dave S.

Honey, how much money do we have in our bank account? I want to buy some jazz records.” That was what I asked my wife, the darling Mrs. JC-A, two weeks ago.

There was a rumor circulating around town that there was a pretty nice collection of records up for sale by a private seller. Seems he had spoken to all the record stores in the area. A few of them had been out to his house to inspect the collection, but no one was willing to either commit to what he was looking to get for the records or had turned him off. Imagine that. A record store employee with an attitude. A friend of a friend who worked at a local record store finally squeezed a phone number for the seller out of his boss at the store, when they also decided to pass. Over a thousand records in the collection, but no way for a record store to quickly get in and out of the transaction was the explanation. Atlanta is a mediocre jazz record town, with rock and southern blues (think the Allman Brothers) being the local taste. People like you and me are certainly the exception.

My jazz record buddy went out to look at the records and quickly called me with an update. Yes, the rumors were true. Some highly collectible items, some nice mid-range pieces, and a whole lot of just stuff. I asked him what he thought the seller wanted. He said he had offers of up to $7,500, but we might be able to get it for less than that. He called the seller back and said we were interested. He said to let him think about. Then the days started passing with no word back. We assumed he was shopping the collection one more time and we missed out. A week later, the seller called back and said could we do $6,700? I told my friend to tell him yes, provided it checked out for me. My friend was short of cash at the moment as he was starting a restaurant business, but he was happy to let me have the full collection. After I offered up a Finder’s Fee payable in either cash or duplicate records, we were on the road.

The seller was a 40-year-old guy who explained that his father, Sid Woods, was an R&B, Soul and Jazz disc jockey in the 60s at Indianapolis, Indiana’s only African American radio station—WGEE. The records made their way to Georgia when the family moved here and have been in storage for a long time. He wanted the records to go to another collector and not a record store that was just in it for the money. I asked the seller if his father knew Wes Montgomery, an Indianapolis resident at the same time. He said they were actually good friends.

I spent about an hour looking over the records and handed over the cash. What was great was that maybe half of the records were promos or DJ releases and looked barely played. The boxes of records barely fit in my SUV, but we got them all in and I headed home.

So what was there? Unlike Al, I don’t have the sense of timing and drama to make this a three-part episode.   Some of the highlights (First Pressings) of the contents were as follows:

  • Sonny Clark, Cool Struttin’
  • Kenny Dorham, Jazz Prophets on ABC
  • Kenny Burrell, Blue Lights
  • Dizzy Reece Blues in Trinity and Star Bright
  • Milt Jackson w/ Monk
  • JR Monterose
  • Kenny Dorham, Whistle stop
  • Lee Morgan, Lee Way
  • Duke Pearson, Profile
  • Face to face, Willette
  • Bud Powell, Time Waits
  • Several Horace Silvers and Jimmy Smiths
  • John Jenkins, Cliff Jordan on New Jazz
  • Earthy, Kenny Burrell, and Three Trumpets, Art Farmer on Prestige 50th street
  • Thelonious with Sonny on Prestige 50th
  • Most of the Candids, including Booker Little Out Front
  • Dave Bailey on Epic
  • Dave Bailey, Walter Bishop and Rocky Boyd, all 3 on Jazz Time
  • 5 Ten inchers including “Strings and Keys” Debut #1 and “Jazz at Massey Hall Volume 3”
  • 35 Blue Note NY USA Monos with Ears including Grant Green Horace Silver, George Braith, Freddie Roach, Lou Donaldson, John Patton, Stanley Turrentine. I had most of these, but not always in Mono, and not in this condition.
  • Lots of Impulse, especially Coltrane
  • Lots of Cannonball and Monk on Riverside still in their original cellophane wrapper
  • Lots of Miles on Prestige
  • Lots of Miles on Columbia, white label promos
  • Jazz in the Space Age by George Russell with Bill Evans (I just like the cover)
  • Shirley Scott on Impulse, autographed by all the members on the band (kinda cool)

In addition to the above titles which I recognized, there were a few other items I researched and found were collectible that I will probably throw up on eBay:

  • George Wallington, Prestidigitator on East – West
  • Vito Price, Swinging the Loop on Argo
  • Paul Gonsalves, Cookin’ on Argo
  • 6 Mode Records: Harry Babisin, Paul Togawa, Stan Levey, Clora Bryant, Frank Rosolino, Conte Candoli
  • Some random Doo Wop and Blues records

So what is next? I promised Mrs. JC-A that I would get our money back and I am now in the process of culling the herd and getting ready for the Atlanta Record Show in a couple of weeks. I have about 300 non-keeper records that I have priced anywhere between $10-$75, plus another 500 that I will let go for $3-5. Hopefully I can entice some of the locals to avoid buying another copy of Live at the Fillmore or Lynard Skynard or Johnny Winter and visit my booth.   Or better yet, a rich Japanese collector or buyer from Disk-Union swings by and offers to take the whole lot for $10,000.

And I almost forgot. Did I mention that the seller’s father knew Wes? Well I found in a random blank jacket a hand-written, vinyl coated metal acetate of Full House on Riverside (test pressing perhaps?). I am not sure what to do with this record, but I prefer to just think of Wes and Sid kicking back with a bottle of Cutty Sark scotch and a 6 pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon grooving to the sounds of those double octaves on a big fat Gibson guitar.

 

 

27 comments

  • Great story, love to be able to enjoy these scores vicariously! One note, be careful with that Full House acetate, they are actually coated in lacquer (which is much softer than vinyl) and were cut in the studio, not pressed at a plant. It might contain some alternate takes, who knows but talk to a conservationist before playing or cleaning it. One false move could ruin the music on it forever.

  • Nice story! And please let us know what your eBay handle is, of course!

  • I love stories like this! I recently came across a collection from a drummer in the Seattle area that recently passed away. His daughter was an amazing person and wanted to records to go to someone who would enjoy the music as much as her dad did. And man do I! Too bad that the mold bug hit a few of the records…But I was able to pull some amazing records! (Kenny Dorham on ABC included)

  • Super cool. Definitely worth the money. All the Candids – excellent!!!

  • The Prestidigitator is pretty good. JR Monterose on that one. You may want to give it a spin before deciding to sell.

    The Vito Price record has a fantastic cover. Hard to find that one.

  • Aaron: Great point on the acetate. Probably unplayable but I will definitely check the track sequencing to the released version. On the downside, the collection also included 3 copies of Purple Rain, 2 Madonna albums and the requisite Australian Jazz Quartet on Bethlehem.

  • Nice story, great business! If we in Italy ever come across a beautiful collection like this expect to pay to the owner the double you paid. All the best

  • @Joe L – yeah, I really want that record 🙂

  • oh man, those Modes! I am working on the mode catalog and would love to get my hands on some of those. what’s your ebay handle? or better yet, your e-mail address? feel free to shoot me a line, too:

    trout (at) susqu (dot) edu.

    awesome story!

  • I too have a lot of Modes. I’d love to have the Rosolino and Candoli Modes (I have the Candoli on V.S.O.P., which is like not having it), the others I already own.

    Were there any Dawn records or Tampa? Those are two labels I look for as well.

    Nice story, nice score.

  • No Dawns or Tampas unfortunately. I found the collection a little eccentric in a way. All those Modes were not what I would have expected given the glut of Prestige blowing sessions in here. It may have more to do with who was distributing free records to DJs vs. any overt collecting habits.

  • Had another comment but re-read it and figured I’d ruffle some feathers with it so…
    The Vito Price is a very nice record. Those Chicago tenors were monsters, Vito, Sandy Mosse, Johnny Griffin, Clifford Jordan, John Gilmore, Von Freeman, Nicky Hill, Gene Ammons, yes indeed.
    Had three copies of the Vito lp back 30 years or so ago, had a hard time selling them for $20.00. Then again, who knew that Jazz lps, perhaps not the art form, would be of huge value in this post atomic age..

  • A “vinyl-coated metal acetate” is NOT a test pressing. If the core is metal, how could it be pressed? Vinyl test-pressings are pressed in vinyl and have no metal core. The correct term for a so-called “acetate” is “lacquer” because that is what the surface is made from–lacquer. Because of metal shortage during WW2, lacquers had glass or paper cores. Glass cores are highly breakable and paper is not a durable base.

  • Al,

    I’m e-mailing from Japan. I have a friend here who is the Jazz buyer for Tokyo Disk Union. Shall I put the two of you in touch?

    Stu

  • Stu — you can. I don’t really have anything I’m selling, but I’d be interested to hear what he has to say.

  • Hi Stu,
    Sorry Al to barge in like this and hope you don’t take offense.

    I have a friend who is looking to sell his huge collection of jazz and blues records that he has amassed since 1949 and I mean it is massive. I would estimate that only giant stores like Disk Union Japan may be the only store that is able to take the lot and have the space for them.

    Is it alright that we pm each other?
    Ng

  • Just picked up another Mode today, Bobby Troup. Not much of a Troup fan, but I like those old Modes.
    Say, the Seattle record show is this weekend, if any of you have attended before, what is it like for old jazz records? I was pretty disappointed in the Eugene show in February, so I am hoping the Seattle show holds promise.

  • I always love these stories, Al. Those Impulse records are the ones I crave. I look forward to hearing your updates as the sales and research unfolds. Props!

  • Hey JOK – The seattle show should be cool. I’ve got a real good friend/collector/seller who will have a booth. Zac Hendrix. Jazz records are tough to find in seattle, typically at shows like the one coming up top dollar+ will be asked for the collectibles.

  • That’s what I was afraid of. Seattle seems to be devoid of any decent jazz records. Portland has quite a few, if you know where to look. I think I’ll pass on the Seattle show. Daryl, I see lots of Impulses, let me know what you’re looking for and I’ll keep an eye out.

  • Nice score on this collection. I love living vicariously thru stories like this.

    Hi Ng Chee Kia,

    I have a friend that has bought mega collections in the past and he would be interested in your friends. Feel free to send me an email at michaeljcampitelli@gmail.com and I can connect you.

  • I’ll echo Jason’s comments above. Never have found anything earth shattering at the Seattle shows when it comes to Jazz (mid level rock records or NW Sonics/Wailers 45s though….). Whenever anything really cool shows up in the Seattle shops it tends to get hidden away and sold on ebay or only brought out when a high roller with more money then sense rolls in and asks (the notorious “back room” at Bop Street). I haven’t made it to the Portland area for record shopping since jazz became a focus of mine, I remember enjoying a store there that seemed to be a co-op type thing with multiple dealers. Any shops in particular that i should check next time i’m down? Jason i lost your email, I still think we should connect some time sbeeb@uw.edu

  • I’ve been in the back room at Bop Street and man oh man…I was able to get some nice ones! Eric Dolphy – Far Cry (2nd press)…Art Blakey OG…Owner is a real down to earth guy who is more than fair when it comes to negotiating a good price for records.

    Steve – I’ll shoot you an email now!

  • Dave at Bop Street is definitely a nice guy, didn’t mean to imply he wasn’t. I think it depends on the day as far as the prices go. There are days where he “has time” to price them and you can talk him into some solid deals. Other times he asks you to leave your stack of back room items and he will price them and call you. That’s when I know i’m sunk. My favorite of those was a decent copy of Kind of Blue that was priced “???”.

  • Steve, you must be thinking of “Crossroads”. I always come home with a vintage jazz record when I shop there. I go there every three weeks or so on average, and sometimes I come home with as many as 5 records. There is a quaint store in St. John’s called “Vinyl Resting Place”, you might find something there you like. I see Jackpot records bought a 125,000 record collection, and I know there were a lot of jazz titles in that collection, but who knows how long it will take them to sort all those records and get them on the shelf? The only jazz record I found at Jackpot was a 10 inch Bob Gordon on Pacific (it was a grail item for me), so I will be interested to see what they do with this trove of records.

  • Thanks JOK! Crossroads is the place for sure. Also that Bob Gordon is a great album. When I first began to buy jazz albums I purchased about 20 10″s with a friend of mine. He took all the Pacific Jazz and I took all the Prestige (neither of us really being well versed in the music at that time). That Gordon was among the ones he took and the one I always wish I had gotten instead.

  • I was in Seattle and Portland this August and found nothing.

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