Adventures in Jazz Collecting, Part 2

A couple of months ago my wife, the lovely Mrs. Jazz Collector, wrote a short article about me dragging her and my kids all over the place in my never-ending search for the perfect record score. But lately I’ve been trying to sell records rather than accumulate more, so it hasn’t happened. Then I started Jazz Collector and now, thanks to the Internet, I get at least one or two emails a week from someone looking to sell a jazz collection. I haven’t been tempted. Until last week. On Friday I spoke to a woman in Hartford, Connecticut. She had 2,800 records that had belonged to her late husband. They were sitting in storage. She had no idea what they were worth. There were a lot of Blue Notes and Prestiges and other records she had seen in the Jazz Collector Price Guide. She said she’d been offered $5,000 for the records, but thought they might be worth more. I told her I’d drive up from New York and would see her in a few hours. I dragged along Mrs JC as well as Marty, our dog. We went to the bank and pulled out $7,500 in cash.

We drove up to Hartford. My adrenaline was pumping and my heart was racing. We got off in Hartford and got lost looking for the storage place. I was cursing and pounding the dashboard as we got stuck in traffic trying to circle back to get on the right road. The thought of missing out on the potential score of my life was too much too bear. Finally, we arrived at the storage place. There were two women waiting for us. They were quite lovely. Maxine, who was selling the collection, said her husband had died several years ago and now it was time to move on and get rid of the records. I looked in the storage bin. There were probably fifteen large plastic crates filled with jazz records. The crates were clear and I could look in them and see the first record in each pile. In one, the record was Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section: In another, it was Ike Quebec, It Might as Well be Spring; in another it was Hank Mobley Workout. 

This is it, I thought, the score of a lifetime. I opened the first crate, the one with the Art Pepper. I pulled the record out. It was a Japanese reissue. I went through the crates, one by one. All of the great records were in there, the Mobley Blue Notes, the Horace Silvers, Coltrane, Miles. They were in nice condition — the guy clearly had great taste in music. But all of the records were second pressings or Japanese reissues. And there was a lot of junk in there as well. I pulled four or five original pressings out of the batch and they were nice and in nice condition. But, alas, this was not the score of a lifetime. I would have liked the collection, and the price was right, but I got the sense Maxine was looking for a bit more money and, frankly, there were not enough original pressings to make it worth my while. I told her I would match the top offer she had received so far, and she took my phone number, but I knew she was not going to sell me the records unless I came up with some more money. After a sleepless night and a lot of soul searching and a lot of conversing with Mrs. JC, I decided not to make another offer. I sent Maxine a note the next day. She had sold the records to someone else.

Bummer. I had to lick my wounds and move on. And I did. On Monday, I drove down to Trenton, New Jersey. How did I do? Well, for that, you’ll have to tune back for Part 3 of this tale, which I will post later today or tomorrow. I will, however, give you a hint of how things went on Monday. You see the picture accompanying this article? That’s the hint.

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