Our friend Daryl Parks, who wrote a previous post on originals versus reissues, has written another piece, this one around the angst of both owning and selling original Blue Note records (and others) worth a lot of money. Here ’tis.
By Daryl Parks
Let me cut to the chase: I am selling first-press, holy grail Blue Notes this week. In our Jazz Collector community, we rarely discuss the emotions related to such sales, so I will. I’m not sure that I’m doing the right thing by selling these records. I am guess that your comments or bids will let me know.
I began to follow Jazz Collector some six years ago. A retired neighbor had given me a few pristine jazz lp’s worth a few dozen dollars, which caused me to learn as much as I could. Al and the JC family taught me more than I ever knew I wanted to know about jazz records: first editions, grooves, initials in the runoff, and more. As I knew I would never be able to afford the rarest of the rare first editions at the center of the site’s clamor (e.g., Blue Note, Prestige, New Jazz) I stood offstage with my re-issues and infrequent Impulse first presses for five years. I often dreamed about owning just one of the rare ones described and discussed. (Fast forward) Then, last year, out of the blue, I owned six. Read more
Today we have a guest column by one of our loyal readers. I’ve been corresponding with Daryl Parks periodically for years and am pleased that we are finally able to provide him with a forum for his ideas. This one, we hope, should provoke some thoughts and discussion
By Daryl Parks
Discogs currently features an original Blue Note, first press, mono, deep groove copy of the Art Blakey A Night at Birdland Vol2 (VG+/VG+) for $500. Discogs also offers a (NM) 1985 Direct Metal Master, (DMM) French, “Cadre Rouge Audiophile” version, on scrawny vinyl, of the LP for $20 + postage. I own the original Blue Note (VG++) and the DMM re-issue (NM). Prepare for heresy: I prefer the sound of the inexpensive, DMM, anorexic-vinyl re-issue. I’m not sure how to make sense of that. Read more
I’d like to follow up on some of the auctions we’ve been watching, starting with this one, which I still find kind of strange: Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, A Night in Tunisia, Vik 1115. This was an original pressing listed in Ex condition for the record and the cover. I’ve never really covered it before as a collectible, but now I will, at least based on the final price tag, which was $324.45. I had promised to listen to a copy, but I realized my body is in the city and my record is in the country. Given the era, the personnel and the repertoire I’m sure it’s a great record. And, of course, there is the only recording in history of the infamous Ferris Benda, aka Jackie McLean.
I was watching some early Blue Notes on eBay, including the very first 12-inch LP in the 1500 series: Miles Davis, Volume 1, Blue Note 1501. This was an original Lexington Avenue pressing with the deep grooves, flat edge, frame cover and all of the other indicators of a first pressing. The record and cover were both in M- condition. Quite a gem, it seems. The final price was $622.89. I haven’t updated the Jazz Collector Price Guide in quite a while, but I do remember seeing a copy of this record sell for more than $1,000 at one time, but that seemed to be the exception rather than the rule. Popsike shows two copies selling for more than $1,000. I would assume that most collectors would treasure these albums, but for some reason there’s something that feels “less original” about the albums whose content was original released on 78 or 1-inch LP. They also don’t sound as well as the later 12-inch records produced for the vinyl format, do they?
Here’s one you don’t see very often. In fact, I don’t recall every writing about this record before: Wade Legge, New Faces, New Sounds, Blue Note 5031. This is an original Lexington Avenue 10-inch pressing. The record and cover are both listed in Ex condition by a very reputable seller. The bidding is in the $280 range with about four days left on the auction. Wade Legge was not recorded very often and died young, at just 29 years of age. I just did a Google search and, it turns out, with shared the same birthday. I am a big fan of his playing on a couple of Sonny Rollins albums, Rollins Plays for Bird and Sonny Boy. I didn’t recall that he was on the Charles Mingus Tonight at Noon Album, so I will have to go back and listen to that, as well as a couple of others. I highly doubt that I will be getting the 10-inch Blue Note record anytime soon, given that I never see it and typically avoid paying top dollar on eBay.
This is also one I don’t see very often, but I’ve never viewed it as a record that was particularly favored by collectors:
Back to eBay. Here’s a beauty, which, if I recall my eBay sellers properly, is from our friend Rudolf: Sonny Red, Out of the Blue, Blue Note 4032. This is an original pressing that looks to be in pristine condition. The bidding is in the $160 range with more than two days to go, and I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see this eventually end up at or near the $1,000 marker. I’m noticing that this is part of a “rare storage find,” so that in itself is quite intriguing. Perhaps Rudolf can shed some light for us. I would love a copy of Out of the Blue, especially since I once had a beautiful copy and traded it not realizing, at the time, how valuable it was and how valuable it would eventually become. I’ll point out one more beauty from the list: Art Blakey, Buhaina’s Delight, Blue Note 4104. This is also an original and it also looks to be in pristine condition. The bidding right now is in the $50 range, but it should sell for a lot more. I would love a pristine copy of this record, since it is one of my favorite Blue Notes of all time. Perhaps I will get in on the action, although I really haven’t been buying at all, and especially not at eBay prices.
This will be fun. Last night I had another one of those very pleasant listening sessions up in The Berkshires, fueled by a few beers, a few vapes and the knowledge that I could play my music as loud and late as I pleased with no neighbors or anyone else to complain. I was watching politics on television as I do so often these days, taking particular delight in the latest polls showing that the blowhard, maniac, crazy man at the top of the Republic ticket is in steep decline and, IMHO, may not even make it to election day without having some kind of collapse/mental breakdown, if, indeed, we could even tell the difference between a nervous breakdown and the behavior he exhibits every single day on the campaign trail. After a couple of hours of this I had enough and decided to enjoy some music. Read more
I had a fun-filled evening listening to some lovely jazz vinyl last night. I had planned to stay up in the country to get some writing done – in the real world I get paid to write about information technology and business. For those of you who didn’t know that, now you do. I’ve had an inordinate amount of assignments lately, which is why I’ve been blogging less often than usual on Jazz Collector. When you’re writing 1,500 to 2,000 words every single day about some esoteric business or technology issue, sometimes the last thing you want to do is sit at the computer and compose something new. At least, that’s how it is for me. Anyway, I was expecting to experience the first tastes of spring up here in The Berkshires, but instead we’ve had a couple of days of snow and quite frosty temperatures. There must be 5-6 inches of snow on the ground. No spring at all. Anyway, I am up here alone together with my dog Marty, which means I can play whatever music I want at whatever volume I want. Marty is very considerate that way. I have a very nice system with a Linn Sondek turntable, Macintosh integrated amp and Wilson Sophia speakers. I also have about 6,000 records to choose from and, for last night, there was the availability of fresh stimulants for the mind, which never hurts either. Read more
I’ve been perusing eBay this morning and a few items caught my eye, including Art Blakey, Blue Note 4003. This is an original West 63rd Street pressing and it looks to be in very nice condition. Based on the seller’s description, probably VG++ for both the record and the cover. There is a start price of $200 and so far there are no bidders, even though the auction closes in just one day. Just last week a copy of the same record, probably a little bit cleaner, sold for more than $1,000. What gives?
This one also startled me: Charles Mingus, The Clown, Atlantic 1260. The record is in M- condition and the cover is in M- condition and there is some torn shrink wrap. The bidding is now at $455. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention — it’s not an original pressing. It’s a later pressing with the purple and orange label. What gives here? You’ll notice that it’s part of the sale of the collection from the late Dr. Herb Wong, but surely that can’t be enough to vault a second (or third) pressing into a new stratosphere, can it? It can’t be the shrink wrap, can it? Help me out here: $455 (and counting) with five more days to go?
I’ve been getting a lot of email and there have been a lot of comments about prices going through the roof, particularly on some of the records from the late Dr. Herb Wong. Here are some of the ones that have been sent to me, and a few of my own observations, starting with Johnny Griffin, The Congregation, Blue Note 1580. This was an original West 63rd Street pressing from the Wong collection and it was in just VG condition for the record and VG- for the cover. Despite the condition it sold for $555.99. Then there was this one, which I had mentioned in an earlier post: Johnny Griffin, The Kerry Dancers, Riverside 420. This was an original white label promo copy. The record was in M- condition and the cover was VG++. When we first noticed this record it was in the $300 range. It ended up selling for $915.