Paying For Pres and Other Jazz Vinyl

Lester Young Jazz VinylThanks for all of the suggestions on getting the mildew odor off the covers of the records. I’m going to try a few of these once I have time, probably next week, and I’ll let you know if anything works. In the meantime, I’m not going back for that sterling collection of 10-inch LPs because the price was just too high, all things considered. I’ll write a post when I have more time, also probably next week. This week I am buried in real work, per usual. Despite my workload, I’ve had a chance to look at some items on my eBay watch list and here are a few things to share with the Jazz Collector community, starting with: Lester Young, Pres, Norgran 1072. This was an original yellow label pressing listed in M- condition for the record and VG++ condition for the cover, although there was some writing on the back. I must admit that I started watching this record

because I didn’t think it would sell and, by not selling, it would have confirmed my theory that collector interest in Norgran records is dying and collector interest in older artists — pre-bop, pre-modern jazz — is also on the wane. So, I must admit to some level of surprise that this record sold for $294. There were only three bidders and three bids so it’s not like this one was going viral, but it still sold for a respectable collectible price.

I was watching this one from the same seller and I was sure it would sell: Clifford Brown Memorial Album, Prestige 7055. This was an original New York yellow label pressing listed in VG+ condition for the record and the cover. The start price was about $200 and there were no bids. Shows how much I know.

There was a copy of this record among the 10-inch records I seem to be passing on: The Fabulous Thad Jones, Debut 12. This was an original 10-inch pressing listed in VG+ condition for the record and the cover. The start price for this one was $200 and there were no bids. I looked in my collection and had forgotten that I have a mint copy of this record, picked up in Baltimore. Ahh, Baltimore. Wonderful memories.


  • ……. “Not too intrested in older artists” Please reconsider! This Prez record was required listening for ALL tenor player’s who came along after 1950 . The cut “Up “N” Atom has every lick that was played in the future of jazz saxophone. To listen and own this record is a treat for your ears!

  • Interesting that in the same auction, “Diz and Getz” only went for $30.

  • Gregory the Fish

    I’ve always had a hard time with Lester and other pre-bop players myself. There are a few Charlie Christian recordings, but other than that, very little before Charlie Parker holds any interest for me at all.

  • That Thad is torched.

    I think I’ll probably shell out for the Lester/Basie set forthcoming on Mosaic, though I suppose it’s earlier than the Norgran material. Have been getting more into pre-Bird stuff myself over the last few years.

  • Personally, I find it virtually impossible to imagine how anyone interested and knowledgable of jazz can have a hard time with Lester Young (no offense intended), particularly given his huge influence on later players. I purchase any original album by or with Lester (and yes, they are a mixed bag, given the history of his health, among other things), and this is coming from a collector whose focus is on avant-garde and experimental! I take it the original comment concerned “collector interest” and not intrinsic interest or value, and is so grounded in prices made at auction, and not any aesthetic judgement. Lester on Norgran (and associated labels) is hit and miss, due to the nature of many of those recording sessions, but there are also sessions that are absolutely essential. Lester’s post-war recordings are the subject of some scholarly debate, but hard to see how you can discount him altogether.

  • Yes, Eric, just talking about collector interest, as in monetary value of the records. I cherish my Pres records, and my Hodges and Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins. But I am of an age when some of these men were still alive when I was into jazz (not Pres), and also when their records were still of high interest to collectors. The point I was trying to make is that the value of their records, the Norgrans, Verves and Clefs, have diminished markedly in contrast to other labels and later artists whose music enveloped the principles of bebop and beyond.

  • Gregory the Fish

    I think Eric was referring to my comment, Al.

    And honestly, there’s no intrinsic reasoning to it. I’ve just found that from charlie parker forward, i enjoy for more jazz than before. ben webster doesn’t do much for me, for example. coleman hawkins sometimes does. All of the Lester Young that I’ve listened to just sounds like a popsicle stick with no popsicle on it. Essential, but not really what I’m there for. It’s just what I hear, man.

    What Lester have I missed? What album should I check out?

  • Mr. Fish, surely you jest! They didn’t call him the Prez for nothin’ I recommend starting with the disc that is for sale and work your way back. I find your Popsicle stick remark a sad and uneducated statement. Please dig the Prez.

  • I remember borrowing some Lester Young CDs from my local library as a teenager along with CDs by Monk, Coltrane, and Miles. A beautiful tone is what I recall. It’s certainly beautiful music, and I find enjoyment in the music of many of the early “giants”, but life is short and there’s just way too much other music I would rather listen to in my limited spare time.

  • Even amongst the non jazz crowd there is a world of musical difference from the 60s onward, and I find even most folks who like “older” music dont cross that pre beatles line very often, the farther back we go the more quaint or zeitgeisty the music becomes. It would be hard to deny that something really changed musically during the 60s.

  • Gregory the Fish

    christ, Art, calm down. the remark was that i don’t enjoy lester young.

  • I admit I haven’t listen to much Lester Young (I only have Lester Young with The Oscar Peterson Trio). Listening to him now on Spotify I could see why someone wouldn’t have much interest in the same way that someone who has an interest in the electric blues my not have much interest in pre-war material.

    I have to be in the right mood to listen to pre-bop, but I do enjoy it.

  • First I will say that I do like the Prez! I think part of the issue with the Prez may be that some of his recordings are not the best quality which could turn some people off. I do have to be in the right mood to put on one of those recordings where you can barely hear what some of the guys are playing. I was listening to Lester Young with the Oscar Peterson trio just last night and it’s very enjoyable and a little more modern of a recording. I would recommend listening to that if you ever get the chance.

  • For those of you who have limited experience and therefore appreciation of Prez’s significance, playing and influence, I suggest the following open-minded study; Lester Young’s “The Complete Lester Young Studio Sessions on Verve”. This eight CD collection documents Prez’s genius, assembling every studio recording Prez made for Verve founder and producer Norman Granz. It begins with the 1946 trio sessions with Nat King Cole and concludes with Prez’s last sessions in Paris in 1959. The box set includes 9 hours of music on 118 tracks. There are 13 previously unreleased tracks and includes a 104 page booklet. However a word of caution this box set won’t likely appeal to novice, casual listeners or budget minded consumers as it retails (used) for approximately $100.

    However, for collectors Prez is a fascinating study in jazz. In addition to his influence on this extraordinary music he’s instrument in changing what was then commonly held misconceptions about jazz, jazz culture and jazz players. He’s credited with many of the terms considered hip, many still used today. For example the term “bread” to refer to money or “crib” to describe a house or home. The term “dig” to describe a deeper degree of understanding and the positive attributes attributed to the word “cool” all have been linked to Prez and his hipster vernacular. In his later years he became a tell it “like it is” kind of guy and of particular interests are the two interviews included in this box set. The contrast between the two interviews are a stark reminder of the challenges he encountered in his lifetime and how those challenges influenced his views later in life.

  • It seems absurd to defend Lester Young, so I won’t try, but any discerning listener should be able to recognize a genius when he hears one. Perhaps the problem is that the truly remarkable Lester is on 78. Please listen to Prez with the Kansas City Six on Commodore, and Keynote, as well as the Smith-Jones group including Lady Be Good and the Dickie’s Dream / Lester Leaps In sessions on Okeh(Columbia), and particularly the Nat King Cole session on Aladdin. All of these are well recorded and available on microgroove re-issues. None of these sessions take more than 20 minutes of our precious, limited listening time and I find them more engaging than a similarly timed John Jenkins blowing session even with the deep groove and RVG etched in the dead wax,

  • Lester Young was the number one tenor in 1936-1944.
    The years 1929-1935 were the Coleman Hawkins era.
    Wardell Gray and Dexter Gordon came around 1945.
    That was long before LP.

  • Gregory the Fish

    i think i’m a fairly “discerning listener”, bill. i simply don’t like an artist you like.

  • Gregory the Fish

    mark explains it well.

  • GTF – per your question of what Lester to try. Of the Norgran/Clef/Verve sessions: Lester’s Here; Pres and Sweets; Pres and Teddy; and The President Plays with the Oscar Peterson Trio. I like all of those a lot. Some of Pres’ earlier “essential” Aladdin sessions were compiled on three 12″ LPs on Score/Intro: The Greatest Lester Young; The Swinging Lester Young; and The King Cole Trio. They’re widely available and pretty cheap. Give some of that a whirl. If you don’t like it, more for us! 🙂

  • Turbocharged Weasel

    Whoa, that Thad Jones is definitely not VG+/ VG+… What grading system is he using? Some sellers have their own grading standards, which can be preposterous… If you find the right seller, everything is VG+ as long as it isn’t snapped in half. I have no issue with people selling scorched records, and depending on the record, I may even bid on such sad and abused scar-baring relics of the past, but I ask that sellers are honest about their grades. Just because a record is old and the seller is surprised it wasn’t melted down and recycled in the 70’s doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still look like Edward Scissorhands played catch with it.

    As for Lester Young… I can appreciate him, although I think the only thing I have from him is a Count Basie 78 he played on. I can appreciate Pre-Bird jazz, but honestly, my preferences stand with what came after… Mid to late 50’s and early 60’s hard bop, and some of the experimental stuff following that, up into the jazz fusion stuff of the late 60’s and early 70’s. I’d certainly buy a Lester Young record if a first pressing showed up at my local record store, but he’s not the first person I think of when I check out their jazz section. People have varying tastes when it comes to jazz… Jazz has existed for well over a century now, and has covered many different sounds, not all of which appeal to everybody. I don’t think there’s any need to criticize somebody for not enjoying Lester Young… he’s not going to do it for everybody, just like how a lot of rock fans aren’t too interested in listening to Elvis Presley and walk straight to the Pink Floyd section in the record store. There’s nothing wrong with that. Tastes are what they are.

  • Let me try this from a different angle. Suppose you are talking with someone who claims to love classic concert music but doesn’t like Beethoven. This is quite a statement and calls into question his love of the music because Beethoven was an essential contributor to that music. He influenced everything that came after and set the music on a course it followed for the next 100 years. Surely one would expect that person to be able to recognize Beethoven as a profound artist and appreciate his music. I think the same goes for Lester Young. I don’t think this is a matter of taste, but of experiencing a deeper understanding of the music we love.

  • Gregory The Fish

    Joe L, thanks for the recommendations, and for not being a holier-than-thou asshole. i intend to check them out. i do have the complete lester young savoy sessions and those didn’t do much for me.

    Bill, no it does not call into question anything. you just wrote the same elitist nonsense in terms of classical music instead of jazz. all your premise means is that he doesn’t like beethoven. no matter how visionary someone’s music is, it necessarily builds on the work of those that came before. beethoven in that sense, just like all other artists, is an arbitrary point you have highlighted in musical history. he was no freer of the influence of others than any other composer living in his time. he simply used those ideas and his own to greater affect. i could criticize you and poo-poo at how you think western romanticism began with beethoven and how you clearly don’t understand the importance of neefe or haydn and therefore must not be a ‘discerning’ listener or ‘real’ lover of classical music. of course, that would be elitist horseshit because all it really means is that YOU PERSONALLY find beethoven to be very enjoyable, and perhaps, for whatever perfectly legitimate reason, have not felt that same joy when listening to haydn. it applies here too. furthermore, your premise is logically absurd. unless you routinely listen to field recordings of isolated tribes from africa, the middle east, and asia banging on rocks with sticks, which is the true beginning of music as a concept, you aren’t fully respecting the history of music either.

    life is short. lester young is a fine player. i’d rather spend my time, for the most part, however, listening to other artists. and if you disagree with that feeling, then great, feel free to disagree. but good god, don’t act all above others because of it. we’re both just meatsacks with the ability to derive emotion from the captured vibrations of air molecules. there’s nothing intrinsic about any of this.

    this blog isn’t for this type of thing, and i won’t be furthering the argument, because there is nothing to argue.

    i hope you and the rest of the pitchforks-for-lester-young party enjoy your weekends, your lester young, and anything else that you choose to derive pleasure from. i’ll see you in other comment sections, which will hopefully be more about enjoyment of music and less about arbitrary jazz street cred.

  • Gregory The Fish

    oh, i forgot to say thanks to turbocharged weasel. your elvis comparison is a great one.

    and thanks also to Rob for the suggestion.

  • geoffrey wheeler

    The Mosaic Basie/Lester boxed set that is to be released this month (July) contains recordings from 1936 to 1947 sourced from a number of labels. No Granz. When a collector says he or she has no interest in pre-bop, this suggests they first began listening to jazz well after the bop years of the 1940s. Over the years, I have asked collectors when they first began seriously listening to jazz. The typical answer is age 13-16, sometimes later. Most collectors begin with what is current. A few may go back to the 1920s. I was born in 1936 and took to jazz soon after thanks to my brother who was 11 years older than me. In short, I began with the Swing Era and have moved forward since. This means I started with 78s and have continued to collect them over the decades. As a result, my ear is acclimated to all formats from 1917 to the present. I can listen to free jazz as comfortably as I listen to Goodman, Tiny Parham, or the ODJB. It takes practice and patience to absorb the spectrum of jazz but the effort is certainly rewarding!

  • Rudolf A. Flinterman

    Geoffrey: interesting observations. Actually, I got the virus somewhere around my 14 th And traditional jazz was very much en vogue then, but there was a leap in the mid fifties straight to the modern idiom, Clifford Brown, Rollins, Mulligan, which explains that for me the whole Swing period went unnoticed. i dig Bill Russell’s AM recordings as much as the sounds of the 50’s And 60’s, but don’t care for what is in between, except for the Duke. Pres IS a giant, but I don’t like the accompanying groups, so I only listen to him surrounded by modernists, ditto for Hawk and Bean.

  • A little surprised no one has mentioned the Billie Holiday-Lester Young Collaborations from the 1930’s and early1940’s.
    Every note Prez plays on these 78’s is beyond magical.These solos were always Transcribed and studied and memorized by saxophone students and students of improvisation associated with Lennie Tristano and Warne Marsh,this was a very common practice 40 years ago.Great solos by Louis Armstrong were also part of this process.All this ear training went into an eventual goal to improvise free Jazz.Charlie Parker was equally important,you would memorize Bird solos and sing them.Perhaps this is why this particular branch of Jazz has so few followers and musicians,it is too much work and devotion to detail to understanding the great improvisers.Understanding these great artists gives us a foundation for making critical decisions about what Jazz is as an art form and what deserves attention and what can be regarded as superfluous.
    This might be a bit far afield for this discussion,but the truth is we need to constantly educate people on the amazing musical riches of the foundation of Jazz of the past or we stand make poor decisions or ignorant comments about the music of the future.
    I can certainly,and i am sure you can too,tell the age and mentality of some of the commentators on the post.I thought we were supposed to be smarter in the age of the internet? I dedicate this post to Steve Lacy,the biggest Lester Young fan i ever met!

  • geoffrey wheeler

    Wise words from Jazzcourier! Years ago, I was interviewed by U.S. News & World Report about record collecting. I told the interviewer there were far better qualified people than me to speak on the subject. I relented when he told me who had recommended me. At some point, he asked me who was my favorite jazz player. I told him I had many favorites but if he had asked me who best defined jazz, that would be Lester Young. Everything about his music and his persona embodied “jazz.” Others might say Duke Ellington. To me, Duke is sui generis like any of the great classical orchestras around the world. He and his orchestra basically existed without reference to anyone or anything else.

  • For the record…..I meant no offence at all with my original comment, and I hope none was taken. Everyone on this blog is clearly deeply invested in Jazz and its history. I find puzzling, and so am interested, in those who Lester leaves cold, and as an academic of Jazz, it gets me thinking. In many ways Lester is an anti-bop player, and I wonder if those whose aesthetic centre is firmly in the bop and post bop period may find Lester, well, not their cup of tea. Lester’s influence actually is greater in the Post-bop period (although the “west coast” sound is indebted to him in many ways). For me his tone, precise placement of notes in the time domain and way of swinging is magical, but hey, its a big wide world of jazz out there, there are sub-generes and artists that leave me cold, that others love. If one were to totally generalize, Lester and the Hawk are the two great sax influences of the their next generation(s). It is hard to imagine Lester playing with Sonny Rollins and taking Summertime into new places like he (they) did, but Lester’s influence can be directly heard in many post-bop players. For me his duos with Teddy Wilson, his recordings with Sweets, his deeply heart-felt collaborations with Billy, are all marvellous (among others). Hey, gotta go, I think I will listen to some Lester Young…. and then some Lester Bowie

  • Essential reading for all Jazz lovers and all Lester Young fans is the essay written by Bobby Scott, “A house in the heart”. This was originally written for Gene Lees’ newsletter in 1983 and is reprinted on or you can just google the title and the author and you can find it that way. Scott has affectionately detailed his time on a 1955 JATP tour with Prez and he gives us insight into the mysterious world he walked through,his vocabulary,his musical philosophy and his personality.
    Scott was 18, he had the world at his feet as a hot shot pianist,he befriended Young and they became traveling partners on the tour.I think this is one of the better bits of writing on Jazz and we all gain insight into Prez via Scott’s superb storytelling.

  • geoffrey wheeler

    In the past on Jazz Collector, I have seen questions about the value of Blue Note 78s. Among the 12-inch Blue Note 78s, BN 5 by Earl Hines will sell in the double digits. Blue Notes 8 and 9 by Meade “Lux” Lewis (“The Blues, Parts 1-4”) can command a hefty price $$$ if the records are in the very rare flimsy original paper album. I have only seen it up for auction once and it sold for something like $225.00. By themselves, the records sell for nothing like that. The 10-inch 78s don’t start to command over $10.00 until BN 540, the beginning of the modernist era with Tadd Dameron, Monk, Art Blakey, James Moody, and Howard McGhee. Starting with Monk 1564 in the 1500 Series, the discs become more valuable, especially Monk, Bud Powell, and Howard McGhee. The Max Roach sides (BN 1570, !571) were originally issued in France as 78s on the Vogue label, and then as a 10-inch LP so the Blue Notes are less valuable. I have only purchased a few in the 1600 series because most of these were issued on LP, giving the buyer the advantage of the format, the front-cover art, and the notes on the back. The rarest and most expensive jazz 78s don’t even come close to prices commanded by rare 1920s blues records (see John Tefteller’s website). Compare $1600 for Alphonse Trent’s “Clementine (from New Orleans)” with a recent price of $37,100 for a Tommy Johnson Paramount blues record of which two extant copies are known, both owned by Tefteller. Only 50 copies of the Trent record were issued in 1933 on Champion 16587.

  • Gregory the Fish


    i appreciate the sentiment, but no, your comments did not offend or bother me at all. you merely provided your own take and even went so far as to say you did not intend to offend. i found it helpful. and you hit the nail on the head: “I wonder if those whose aesthetic centre is firmly in the bop and post bop period may find Lester, well, not their cup of tea”. That’s exactly it. Bop is my jam. i have no problem with lester young, i’d just rather spend me time listening to other things. i don’t think he’s bad or anything. and you were nice about it, i thought.

    i only got mad because some people called into question my appreciation of the music, my ability to discern quality music, my general understanding of jazz history, etc. this was perhaps unintentional, but it is a symptom of a much larger elitist mentality that i think is an absolute plague among jazz aficionados and music hobbyists in general, and i will vigorously resist it, especially when it comes from merely enjoying some artists more than others. there’s no reason for it.

  • Gregory the Fish

    geoffrey wheeler,

    my turntable can play 78’s and i would LOVE to hear some of those very early sessions, like the drum solo 78 by art blakey, or monk’s earliest recordings. but the prices are always a little higher than i would like to pay for something that is probably sandpapery at best.

  • That Bobby Scott piece was ace, thanks.

  • geoffrey wheeler

    It takes hunting and luck, Gregory, to find early Blue Note 78s from the “modern” era that are in E condition or better. I find the prices on E-bay higher than I care to pay. My best luck has been with auction vendors who specialize in pre-War 78s where a post-war Blue Note or Savoy 78 may crop up. Because the typical buyer is only interested in pre-War, they don’t know much (or care) about post-War 78s so it’s surprising what one can get for $10 or $15. I have often suspected I was the only bidder for such discs. I once bought a brand new Monk Blue Note 78 for $15.00, whereas it might go for five times that or more on E-bay. Three auction lists to check are recordsforcollectors, Alan Cooperman, and Jim Prohaska. All three are listed on Google. Rather than wade through a long list, just pick the names that interest you on either Blue Note or Savoy (you won’t find much in the way of Prestige, Debut, Contemporary, etc.) and go directly to their alphabetical listing. Art Zimmerman’s Jersey record bash is also a good venue for both 78s and LPs. It’s listed on Google. It’s over for 2016 but there will be another in 2017. Hope this helps

  • Gregory the Fish

    oooohhh that is helpful. how kind of you! few people are usually willing to reveal their sources. i appreciate it!

  • Thanks for the heads-up on the Bobby Scott article – it was superb.

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