We haven’t had a guest column in a while, but here’s one that came in recently. I will let it speak for itself:
How I met Bill Evans…
First let me introduce myself… I am Mervyn de Gannes from Trinidad & Tobago. Born in the 1920’s, I am the third child in a family of seven kids and the first born boy. In those days, there was a piano in most homes and the girls always took lessons to learn to play. Even at the age of ten when the tutor came to our home, I would be listening in, and whenever my sisters were practicing and played anything incorrectly, I would let them know what they were ‘playing wrong’. Obviously this didn’t go over well with them as I never took lessons. By my late teenage years, by just listening to records and playing by ear, I was performing at friends’ parties until I got married at 26. My idols then were Bill Evans along with Errol Garner and Oscar Peterson.
Allow me to take you away from your favorite subject for a moment and catch up on some items in the Jazz Collector inbox. First are a couple from our reliable friend CeeDee, who always has something interesting to offer. This one is Johnny Griffin, Lady Heavy Bottom’s Waltz, German Vogue 17164. I’ll admit I’ve never seen or heard of this one, but I do imagine that the title song would be interesting. It’s a recording from 1968. This one was in M- condition for the record and the cover and it sold for $240.37. CeeDee also sent this one: Jazz by Sun Ra, Volume 1, Transition 10. This was an original pressing with the booklet. The record and the cover both looked to be in about VG++ condition. The price was $660, which CeeDee considered to be something of a bargain. I wouldn’t really know myself because I’ve never been a collector of Sun Ra records and actually only own one or two. I guess I’m missing something. I also had many opportunities to see Sun Ra, but never did.
I was watching that Clifford Brown autograph (as well as Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, et al), but didn’t have enough interest to actually bid on it. To my surprise, there were only five bidders altogether, which would seem to indicate minimal interest at that price, which turned out to be $482.11. I did casually mention when I wrote the earlier post that Clifford was probably among my top five musicians of all time and that I would ponder that and do another post on it this weekend. Sometimes, as we all do, I say and do stupid things. It was stupid to even suggest that I could create a list of top five favorite musicians, when there are so many musicians I love and each musician brings something different and special to my life and my enjoyment of music. Last night I was listening to the Dexter Gordon record, Getting’ Around, Blue Note 4204, and I was thinking about how much I love Dexter and how much I treasured seeing him as often as I did in the early and mid-1970s, particularly his very first club date when he began playing again in the United States. And, goodness, what an amazing ballad performance on “Who Can I Turn To.” And then I put on two Miles Davis records, Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain, and I thought
I’ve been on a bit of a Bill Evans tangent recently. If you’re going to be on a tangent, you could do a lot worse. I’ve been listening to a lot of Evans, mostly the Riverside records, and then I also put on Kind of Blue the other night and I recall thinking to myself that, in many ways, Kind of Blue sounds in some places more like an Evans album than a Miles album. I know there’s always been a bit of controversy about who actually wrote Blue In Green, but all it takes is a cursory listen to hear that it seems more Evans than Miles. Anyway, I’m not looking to open up old wounds or start new controversies. But I want to do two things: 1. Point you all to this very interesting article on the Influence of Evans, The Bill Evans Legacy, by Doug Ramsey in The Wall Street Journal the other day. It’s nice that his genius remains recognized and appreciated and still discussed in the mainstream media. 2: I wanted to post the great recording of My Foolish Heart from Waltz for Debby, just because I love it and wanted to share it with a bunch of my friends. So, enjoy:
Don’t see a lot of Stan Getz records in the higher price ranges, and we’re seeing fewer Norgrans in there as well, so I have my eye on this one: Stan Getz at the Shrine, Norgran 2000. This is a boxed set with two LPs and a beautiful booklet and all of it looks to be in M- condition and original, with the yellow labels on the vinyl. The bidding is in the $240 range and there are more than three days left on the auction.
Here’s another one you’re not going to see too often: An autographed copy of Bill Evans, Portrait in Jazz, Riverside 315. The Bill Evans signature is on the back cover and it is dated from 1974. The record is an original pressing with the deep grooves and blue label and it seems to be in about VG++ condition for the vinyl and VG+ for the record. The auction closes tomorrow and the bidding is in the $150 range with 13 bids and what looks to be eight different bidders. Wouldn’t mind this one myself. Hmm — birthday is coming up.
Here’s something I would love to hear and own: Bill Evans Acetate, US Army Dance Band Jazz 1951. This seems to be a legitimate recording of Bill Evans in 1951. The problem for me is that the start price is $1,000 and that seems too high unless I planned to do something with it, like transfer it to digital and make it available for broader consumption. I would be willing to do that, but not at that price. It makes me think that we should form some sort of non-profit Jazz Collector collective to acquire some of these rare items to share and preserve them. If you recall, there was also a very rare J.R. Monterose recording of him as a teenager that we had an opportunity to acquire, as well as a recent Dizzy Gillespie concert and I’m sure many others.
This seller has some interesting items, including Sonny Clark, Cool Struttin’, Blue Note 1588. This looks to be an original pressing listed in VG+ condition for the record and probably VG+ for the cover. The bidding is in the $450 range and there are still two days to go on the auction. We’ve seen this record sell for more than $3,000 on many occasions in the Jazz Collector Price Guide. One of the things I find interesting about this auction is
I was lying in bed at about 3:30 in the morning unable to sleep so I put some nice ballad music on my iTunes and the song “Detour Ahead” came on from the Sarah Vaughan album After Hours At the London House and I thought to myself, gee, that is one of my favorite live albums of all time. It’s great music and there’s those outtakes on “Thanks for the Memory” and the whole concept was quite unusual, setting up a live recording date at a club in the wee small hours of the morning and inviting other musicians who had finished up their gigs to make up a large portion of the audience. And then, still unable to sleep, my mind started racing through its database of jazz records to come up with my favorite live recordings and the next thing I know it’s 4:30 in the morning and I’m still not asleep. But at least I have an interesting post for Jazz Collector, and that is my list of favorite live jazz albums. I decided to take the Sarah record off the list and just concentrate on instrumental records. Perhaps I’ll do the vocals at a later date. Meanwhile, I offer for your perusal:
Here’s an interesting one I seemed to miss: Miles Davis, Miles Ahead, Columbia 1041. This is an original pressing but that’s not what makes it interesting. On the back cover are six signatures: Miles Davis, Julian” Cannonball” Adderley, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Jimmy Cobb and Paul Chambers. The signatures are all in blue ballpoint pen. The seller admittedly had no idea of the provenance of the signatures or whether they were legitimate. Seems that he picked up the record at a yard sale or estate sale. The cover was probably in VG+ condition with a seam split on the bottom. There were 39 bids on the item and in the last hour it went from about $2,000 to its final price of $3,100.99. Imagine if the signatures aren’t legitimate? Or, on the other hand, imagine what this would have fetched if the signatures were 100% verified. I do have a question, however. Why would Jimmy Cobb sign his name “Jimmie Cobb?” Are there other circumstances where he went by Jimmie, as opposed to Jimmy or, as on Kind of Blue, James Cobb?
Catching up on a few remnant items on my watch list, then will plow forward with some records that are on auction this week, which is also the week of the WFMU Record Fair, which is where I will be on Friday and Friday only.
Bill Evans, Waltz for Debby, Riverside 399. This was an original white-label promo copy listed in VG+ condition for both the record and the cover. The seller’s description made it seem as if he undergraded the condition, but, as a bidder, I would trust the actual grade over the description. So, if you trust the grading, the VG+ promo copy of Waltz for Debby was a $1,025 record.
Duke Pearson, Profile, Blue Note 4022. This looked to be an original pressing with the West 63rd address, deep grooves, ears, Van Gelder. The record and the cover both appeared to be in VG++ condition. The final price was $366. Given what we’ve seen in the market lately, does that seem a little low.
Here are updates on some of the jazz records we’ve been watching on eBay, starting with Piano Interpretations by Bud Powell, Norgran 1077. I was watching this because I’m getting the sense that Norgrans are being devalued a bit, but then I realized this was not an original pressing. Oh well. Watching it anyway. This one has the black label, whereas an original would have the yellow label. This one looked to be in VG++ condition for the record and VG+ for the cover. It sold for $79. It does have quite a lovely David Stone Martin cover.