Listings and Musings on Rare Jazz Vinyl

We’ll start with a rare Blue-Note-free day here at Jazz Collector: Jack Sheldon, The Quartet and the Quintet, Jazz-West 6. This is an original pressing listed in M- condition for the record, although it is probably closer to VG++, and probably VG+ or VG++ for the cover. This is a 1956 record that features Zoot Sims. The price is in the $200 range with about three days to go. I did a quick Google search and am happy to report that Jack Sheldon is still alive. 🙂 I remember him not only as a terrific player but also as a pretty good comedian, playing sidekick on the Merv Griffin show when I was growing up. You wonder about an artist like this in terms of both their legacy and the long-term value of their records in the collectors’ market.I happen to be of an age when I remember Sheldon and can picture him. What happens when the people who actually remember Sheldon are gone? Do people still want his records? No offense, but he’s not Miles Davis or Clifford Brown. Perhaps a record like this will retain its value more due to the presence of Zoot Sims or the fact that it was on a very rare label. Of course, I would love to have an original pressing of this record for my collection and I’m sure I would give it a good listen. But probably not at the price that this will command in the end.

This one is more up Clifford’s alley than mine, but I couldn’t help notice it because of the final price: M’BOOM, Percussion, Strata-East 19732. This looked to be an original pressing listed in VG+ condition for both the record and the cover. The final price was $1,913. Clifford did, indeed, write about this record back in October of 2015. At the time he noted that it went for “a whopping $1,592” — and that record was in M- condition for both the record and the cover. I guess the price has M-boomed in the past year and a half. (Sorry).

Here’s a question: What do you do with a record that has an odor of mold? I bring this up because I am watching a copy of: John Coltrane, Ballads, Impulse 32. This is an original promo pressing in Excellent condition. The start price is around $300 and so far there are no bidders. This is one of my all-time favorite records and one that I listen to quite often because it is also a favorite of The Lovely Mrs. JC. My original mono pressing of the record play well but, alas, there is the aforementioned odor of mold whenever I pull it off the shelf. It is quite off-putting and has put me in a position where I would like to replace my copy. So, I guess, I answered my own question: I need to figure out a way to replace it. For a record like this, which I listen to often, I think I would go for an M- copy rather than excellent. Trade anyone?

Here’s another one that I’ve never owned as an original pressing: George Wallington Quintet at the Bohemia, Progressive 1001. I love the tagline “Featuring the Pack,” which just happens to be Jackie McLean, Donald Byrd, Paul Chambers and Art Taylor. Not a bad “pack” to have. This copy was in VG+ condition for the record and just VG for the cover,  with a seam split and tape on the back. Still, it sold for $511. This is an example of a huge change I’ve seen in the market over the past few years: Rare records in not so great condition still selling for top dollar. I’m sure there are many reasons for this phenomena, primarily that these records are now so hard to find in mint condition that collectors just want to own a copy and will be less discerning about the condition. Yes?

 

37 comments

  • Al: you raise a very valid point. What will happen when our generation is gone and the names of Jack Sheldon, Duane Tatro, Gil Mellé, Oscar Pettiford, to name a few, don’t mean a great deal anymore, if they are not related to “collectible” labels like Blue Note.
    Even now, Jazz:West, I presume, is unknown to most collectors. I have this album, it is good music. The sleeve is typical mid-fifties, two pieces of stiff cardboard, glued together with a piece of paper, the liner notes and front. Bill Claxton was on board too.
    Wallington: wasn’t it “the Peck”?
    Moldy records, I love them, it adds to the authenticity (sic!). Trane’s ballad album is great in any condition. In a similar vein is the Duke/Trane album, also on Impulse.

  • Duane Tatro? I’m afraid that’s already before my time. 🙂

  • In addition to being a fine trumpet player, one of the best on the West Coast, in my opinion, Jack Sheldon had a wonderful dry, hipster sense of humour. (Forgive the correct English spelling there, you’ll have to excuse me because I’m from across the pond).
    His Falcon Club routine still causes me to smile. Find it on YouTube, just enter: “Jack Sheldon Falcon Club”.

  • Regarding mold: I use the lysol anti-bacterial wipes to kill the mold. Just need to be careful not to overly wet the paper and in turn the ink runs. Make sure especially on the Impulse that you wipe the inside and outside covers and dry it standing up and open.

  • Yeah, it’s “The Peck,” a tune credited to Jackie McLean on the record but I had thought it was actually a Wallington number.

    That Duane Tatro LP on Contemporary is excellent.

  • I think Jack Sheldon was featured in the Chet Baker “Let’s Get Lost” documentary also

  • Al, years ago I bought a small collection of amazing records that reeked of mold. A friend of mine who reconditions musical instruments told me that customers bring in items they find in basements and attics with moldy instrument cases. He would place cases in a large plastic bag with Irish Spring soap for 2 weeks. The soap scent disappears in a month or so and the mold smell is gone. It worked like a charm, it takes a couple of months but it’s worth the time. Removing mold from record grooves is a whole other battle Ive fought and won.

  • “ballads” is tough to find with original Am-Par labels! Took me some time to find a clean copy that didn’t break the bank…

  • Gregory the Fish

    that M-boom pun is too good, especially since the condition is M-.

  • I’m 37, and I may be the only person my age who knows who Jack Sheldon is. (Any other “youngsters” here excepted.) I own that record on CD, BN did a pretty good limited run of “West Coast Classics” in the late 90s.

    I think I first heard of him when I saw his name on Pacific sides I used to listen to at my college’s music library. Then I saw Let’s Get Lost, where he practically steals the film. And that’s not even getting to Schoolhouse Rock yet…:)

  • Jack Sheldon is a funny presence in the otherwise dark Chet Baker biopic. He is also a great part of Art Pepper Returns and a much later session on Japanese Atlas which tries to recapture the mid- fifties magic with more modern recording equipment and production values.

  • I’m amazed, though I shouldn’t be, that an M’Boom record fetched nearly 2 grand at auction. Granted, it’s fairly rare and many copies were supposedly destroyed, but that’s still a big chunk of change for a Strata-East!

  • Yeah, i think that’s almost 10 times the price of the second most expensive Stratas.

  • Gregory the Fish

    clifford,

    i’m surprised too, but only slightly. when i first started getting into jazz and was downloading a lot from blogs like ile oxumare in roughly 2008, that album was legendary. no rip of it existed, and no one had heard it, and no one could afford to buy it. when someone finally posted a rip, the blogosphere exploded (the jazz ripping blogosphere, anyway).

  • yeah, I have the Japanese CD reissue from maybe around that time. Would not be surprised if that disc was booted from a source like that (it’s certainly a needle-drop). You’re right, until then it was pretty much un-hearable and I’m not sure it’d turned up on eBay more than once.

  • Jack Sheldon did an album for GNP named J.S. and his exciting all-star big band. The big band actually is a nonet feat. Chet Baker and Art Pepper (side B), whereas side A features Lennie Niehaus and Conte Candoli.

  • I’m not afraid about jazz collecting evolution. Collectors in every field always forms a connoisseurs minority or community. But this minority is enough to make prices high. Collectors endlessly improve their knowledge, and make discoveries. Most of them will start with Blue Note, Prestige, Riverside, Savoy and one day they will meet Dodo marmarosa, Jack Sheldon, or Duane Tatro or Buddy Childers just as we all did…Modern Jazz has never been a popular music, but even if there are only 50 people in the world who want Jack Sheldon on Jazz West, it will be largely sufficient to make this record sought after and pricey, especially in a globalized market.

  • @Michel, funny — I went from Albert Ayler and Hal Russell to Duane Tatro!

  • Gregory the Fish

    i went your way as well, clifford.

  • Other way round for me

  • The premium placed on Blue Note is a sign of decline in the knowledge base of the current generation of jazz collectors. Decades ago and beyond, Leon Leavitt as well as the hard core Japanese collectors defined the upper tier of jazz collecting, and they set the prices. Those Japanese guys would get together regularly over coffee, in order to trade information and refine their knowledge of rare records and details of first pressings. In those days, the rare records on esoteric labels were the most treasured, and the most valuable. Unfortunately, the records that went to Japan will stay there forever.

  • @Paul, you are spot on….In the mid 90’s when my Hard Bop Fever hit I was running around NYC trying to buy records and stores were setting aside Blue Notes etc. for Japanese dealers who were making monthly visits. I realized this when I was going through the new arrival bins at one of my favorite spots and spotted a stack of lp boxes with Blue Note written on the side. When asked, the owner told me they were set aside for Japanese dealers because they offered top book price. I soon found out that most dealers in town were setting aside the better titles and would only put out any titles the Japanese passed on afterwards. It was painful!! The latest Goldmine Jazz Price Guide had… Waltz for Debby $30, Mobley Workout $25, Kind of Blue $50, Sonny Clark Cool Struttin’ $125 etc. Many of the Lex and 63rd St Blue Note titles that booked between $125 and $200 were being sold between $500 to $1200 overseas. Until the 2000’s when Ebay exposed the world market price most of us had no clue.

  • Yes @woody. I had the same experience everywhere in France, too. Almost everything that was really collectable was set appart for Japanese an Koreans. Thanks to Ebay, i’ve hold in my hands many records i would never have had in the regular market shop. Needless to say i’m absolutely not in the nostalgic mood of the dusty shop owned by the neurasthenic douche face that tries to sell you the scratched second press discarded by the Japanese buyer. Yes i still hate record shop owners from the bottom of my heart ! Call it childhood trauma. 😀

  • Michel. What a great post. Neurasthenic sent me right to the dictionary. ” a neurosis characterized by extreme lassitude and inability to cope with any but the most trivial tasks”. OMG

  • Paul S: how right you are!

  • In 1994, the Yen to USD exchange rate was 110:1. Today it is 110:1. The records are there for anyone wanting to buy.

    eBay has replaced the monthly Japanese buyer set-aside program. I was in CarolinaSoul’s brick and mortar store last month. The racks were bare. I asked where the good stuff was and the clerk said the collectible items head straight to eBay and the desirable but not highly prized ones go to Discogs. The drek stays in the store for the suckers who still like to browse in person.

  • Alright already! Taking nothing away from Blue Note, I truly believe
    that there is a tremendous amount of great jazz on other labels. I would love if jazz collector listeners would do a classic blindfold test: cover up the record cover and try to guess the label. Do your ears a favor and try it!

  • Of course there’s other labels besides Blue Note!!!

    There’s Riverside and Prestige… 😉

  • The overall thread of this conversation is mostly about how hard it is to find original pressings from the 50’s. Blue Note, Riverside, Prestige, Savoy, etc. were small private companies that only pressed up enough copies that they could sell based on the distribution channels at that time. Only a few thousand copies were pressed compared to a major label like Columbia Records.
    For example if you look up Walter Davis – Davis Cup(1959) on popsike there’s only 175 sold copies. Versus Miles Davis – Kind of Blue(1959) you can find 180 six-eye white label promos alone!!!
    I think we love to discuss the rarity and cost of certain jazz titles but push comes to shove we’d choose Kind of Blue over Davis Cup for a top ten desert island list.

  • Hi DaveS, I agree that ebay is the place you have to hunt for the highly prized and rare records if you hope to amass a nice collection in less than an entire lifetime. However, I frequent the Carolina Soul store and have gotten nice, and sometimes desirable, items pretty much every time I go there. Often they’re cool items that are less obvious than Blue Note, Prestige, etc. But just last week I went in there and walked out with an OG Farmer’s Market in great condition on yellow fireworks label, for something like $60-$70. Once in a while they shelves seem a bit dry, but not usually. There was also a nice NJ copy of Rollins Plays Bird (fireworks) that was also on the wall ($45) that I didn’t purchase, as well as a cool New Jazz repress of Jackie McLean’s Lights Out. It’s still fun for me to go to record stores and when you find an item they are more of a “trophy” and an experience than something that ends up getting mailed to you.

  • “Run, Buddy, Run”.

  • My local spot, Plaza Records, always wall hangs the good stuff, currently including a 1962 mono Kind of Blue and a peeled Beatles Butcher cover, well before ebay. They use ebay only after us local geeks get the chance to decide how low we want our bank statements to be. They want 200 for the Miles and 800 for the peeled Butcher. Seems high for the Miles but very fair for the rare beatles sleeve. Wish more stores had the same courtesy to their customers.

  • Ethan – that’s how most stores SHOULD do it…but most don’t…it’s disappointing. Give us locals the first chance at the field finds, then send it to the interwebs for the e-finds….There’s a couple stores that I head to that gets an OG press in..but those are very very rare now days.

  • Here’s the answer, talk to your local record store owner! Tell him what you are willing to pay for a album that would go to eBay . A $ in the hand is worth 2 on the Internet . Is that too hard?

  • @Art, sometimes that works but not always. A store in Austin wouldn’t sell me — even at top dollar prices I offered — rare mint European jazz that he wanted to sell to people on another message board, just because his “brand” was more important than the cash in my hand at the counter. Totally bizarre. Basically he didn’t want them circulating locally.

    The Sheldon went for over a grand, by the way, which is impressive.

  • A lot of smaller shops are now consigning with some of the big ebay sellers.

  • Interesting. I agree that ebay is now the only place to go. Painful to think of how many great jazz records are bottled up in Japan. Its remarkably rare to see a nice American or European jazz record from a Japanese source on ebay.

    Tampa-28 (Marty Paich) and Tampa-20 (Art Pepper) just sold for good money on ebay. I would take those records over any Blue Note, any day of the week.

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