Some Gems From a Gem of a Collection

Johnny Griffin Jazz VinylHere’s a nice one: Johnny Griffin, The Kerry Dancers, Riverside 420. This looks do be an original promo pressing with the white label and the deep grooves. It is listed in M- condition for the record and VG++ for the cover. The bidding is in the $300 range with more than five days left on the auction. The seller notes that it is from the estate of the late Dr. Herb Wong, who was a pretty well known jazz historian, writer and radio host in the San Francisco Bay area. The seller, Funkyousounds, states in the listing that it has acquired Dr. Wong’s entire collection. I noticed a bunch of other auctions from the estate earlier this week. Funkyousounds is based in St.Louis, so I, for one, am curious how they ended up with the collection. Funkyousounds, if you are out there, perhaps you have a story to share with us here at Jazz Collector?

One of the other ones I had noticed from the collection was this:

Red Garland Trio, Manteca, Prestige 7139. This was a yellow label with the New Jersey address, which makes it a second pressing. Manteca was one of the last of the Prestiges with the New York address. The record was in VG++ condition and the cover was VG+. It sold for $165.02, which is a high price for this record, especially a second pressing.

There was also this: The Ray Draper Quintet, New Jazz 8228. This looked to be an original pressing with the purple label and (I think) deep grooves. The record was in VG+ condition and the cover was VG++. The final price was $194.04. I’ve always wondered why this record wasn’t more highly valued by collectors, particularly because it features John Coltrane. Any thoughts?



  • Funkyousounds is a friend of mine. I’ve known him about 15 years. I don’t believe he’s on here, or at least he wasn’t last time I asked him. Long story short(ish), he was young – only about 19 – at the time we met at the local record show, and he was primarily into funk and soul. He started out simply, advertising in the local papers and buying up collections that were still cheap and in decent supply at the time. He quickly began amassing mountains of fantastic jazz records and he used to let me pick through his “seconds” at amazing prices, but that ended when even scrubby Blue Notes began to fetch good money. Ha. He always had great business savvy and quite rapidly grew his operation to cover the country, buying up amazing collections. His bread and butter has really always been “insanely rare” soul 45s (many of which blow away Blue Note prices), but he’s educated about jazz as well. I don’t see him much these days, but he’s a very good guy and professional seller.

  • i gotta second japhy’s thoughts on funkysounds: very nice guy.

  • I won a promo copy of Coltrane Settin’ The Pace from Funkysounds that came from the Herb Wong collection. He had the LP listed at VG+. The record was more like NM. Played flawless. I was extremely happy and would definitely buy from him any time.

  • Although I don’t know the person behind funkysounds, I can give you a little insight into the Herb Wong collection. I was one of the many people invited to look at the Wong collection. One of his associates is a good friend of mine and the widow asked him who she might call and he mentioned me. Over the past several months his widow had asked many different dealers to come and bid on the collection. They came from LA, Japan, and the East coast as well as the Bay Area. When I was told it went to St. Louis, my first thought was Euclid Records. I am very surprised it went to funkysounds as his business seems to be entirely through ebay without a brick and mortar shop. Let me clarify a bit.
    First, I should mention that Dr Wong had been ill for some time and initially, (before his passing), had sold many of his most collectible items. What we were presented with was still, an enormous amount of records. They were kept in a large room devoted exclusively to records, books and cds. The room was the size of a large living room and had record shelves on all the walls and more jutting out into the middle of the room. There was a desk and some chairs but that was all.
    A few of the dealers had estimated approximately 18,000 lps. By the time I looked at them they were all over the floor and piled on top of the shelves so it was impossible to even estimate. They were 90% jazz with a bit of classical thrown in. This is not including the cds and books. There were at least as many cds as records, and, to me, the books were also a high point of the collection as he had an extremely comprehensive assortment of jazz books. As far as I know, neither the cds nor books were included in the bidding.
    There is no way to accurately characterize a collection for this magnitude but there were a few trends that could be detected. First, because Dr. Wong was a radio host and record and concert producer there were an enormous amount of promos. They almost all came from the 70s and 80s and were uniformly unplayed. There were an enormous amount of OJC and other reissues from this era, also mostly unplayed. Of course there were hundreds of fine collectible items like the Johnny Griffin as well, but all (or most) of the remaining Blue Notes were 4000 series New York and mostly stereos. There were quite a few pieces like the Garland where they were 2nd issues; collectible but not that expensive. Dr. Wong had his favorites as well and unfortunately they were mostly big band and trad things. There were over 300 Woody Herman pieces for example.
    I know what a few of the bids were, but I did not bid myself. I only deal on ebay and I felt the large amount of 70s and 80s stock (not to mention the Woody stuff) was best suited for a store and that precluded a competitive bid. Not to mention the fact that although I have a large storage facility, there was no way to store all 18000 records.
    Funkysounds seems to believe that this is not a problem. I know he has a wonderful reputation and has had the ability to get at or above the top of the market prices on his offerings. He will certainly have to. I wish him well and can say to anyone who bids on these pieces they will be in excellent condition and have been well cared for.

  • Al, you’ve posed the question about the Ray Draper lp before and I agree with you 100%!
    I’m not sure why, but I really enjoy this album. Additionally, I think it has a great cover featuring the young Draper who was just a teenager at the time.

  • fellows, sorry to interrupt you, but there’s one i’m a bit confused about
    Monk – In Action over 200$ already..anything I’m missing? the condition seems to be great, but anyway..

  • I have also noted that a number of lps from Dr. Wong’s collection have been selling for some very high prices. Possibly this is the result of a quality seller in combination with lps from the collection of a popular jazz celebrity. Right now I’m 0 for 3 in bidding on records from this collection as my bids are getting blown out of the water. One lp which I thought I could snag for around $25 sold for over $100.

  • I have quite a lot of master tapes jazz singers Louis Armstrong duke Ellington and prob a lot more as my father inks with was a sound engineer would they be worth much

  • Re the Monk album on Riverside. It is not a DG and already forty bids. Strange indeed.

  • yes, consistent with all the above commenters: (1) i have bought a lot of records from funkyousounds over the years, and have found the seller to be eminently trustworthy, and (2) the dozens of records from Dr. Wong’s collection that I was interested in, and that i unsuccessfully bid on, sold by and large at prices far removed from bargains and, often, far across the threshold of insanity. but these prices seem unusually unusual to me — perhaps they are an artifact of Dr. Wong’s aura — and don’t, i think (i hope!) constitute a “new normal.”

  • Regarding the Ray Draper & John Coltrane lp, it’s really a shock to see this selling under $200. This low price is really a mystery, especially considering it’s from the Wong collection. Meanwhile other lps from the Wong collection continue to sell at unexplainable prices. The post above (by Oriduck) suggested that possibly these high prices are “an artifact of Dr. Wong’s aura.” If so, it’s an interesting insight into human nature. It reminds me of George (from Seinfeld) being excited over purchasing a car he believed was once owned by Jon Voight!

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