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.
The final batch of records has arrived. The guy from the shipping department in the building just brought them up on a hand truck. Three boxes – those banker’s box file boxes, the brown and white ones you get in Stapes. They’ve never been good for storing or transporting records, but hopefully this batch made it through safely. Opening the first box. There’s a sheath of what looks to be sheepskin or some kind of cotton on top. Nice. The records seem safe. On top, an Errol Garner record. No big deal. Going through the records. Each has the same type of soft plastic cover: I have a feeling these were the original covers on the records. In the 1950s and 1960s they didn’t use what we have come to know as shrink wrap, but they used a cover and it fit loosely over the records, just like these. They certainly seem old enough, and dirty enough, and covered with enough dust to have been original covers from the 1950s. No matter. Getting through the box, one by one, record by record.
Well, yes. Yes, I would be interested in the records at around the price that we had discussed nearly two months earlier. Now, recall, I had still never seen the records. They were in Toronto and I was in New York. The guy selling them admittedly didn’t know much about them, other than what he had gleaned from the Jazz Collector Web site and the Fred Cohen Blue Note book. He also told me that many of the records were from England and South Africa, which meant that it was still possible they were not original pressings. If it wasn’t a big investment for me, I wouldn’t have cared that much. But we were talking about a hefty hunk of change, a few thousand dollars, for essentially 25 or so records. This was definitely a risk on my part. So I made a suggestion: I would send him one third of the total price and he would send me 25 records, of which there would be at least 10 of the Blue Notes. If the records were as he said—original pressings, nice condition—I would then send him the rest of the money and he would send me the rest of the records. There were some more negotiations. Again, I won’t bore you with the details. Eventually we struck at deal. I took a deep breath, wrote out a check, put in the mail and waited.
So yesterday I was in my apartment in New York and I had 45 minutes to kill and I decided to put on a classic Blue Note record I hadn’t listened to in a while, if ever. I went through the collection and stopped at Johnny Griffin, A Blowing Session, Blue Note 1559, and I put the record on the turntable and it is quite an interesting record, with early Coltrane and lots of up-tempo material, particularly The Way You Look Tonight. And one other interesting thing is the presence of Art Blakey in the rhythm section, who has an ability to make every session sound like one of his own, with that perpetually driving beat and heavy accents. And I’m listening to the record, and I’m looking at the cover, and I’m reading the liner notes and I’m thinking to myself: Where and when did I get this record? And therein lies a story.
I step away from eBay for a few days and come back and my watch list looks like it has exploded with records in the $1,000 and even $2,000 bin. First there was this from our friends at Euclid Records: J. R. Monterose, In Action, Studio 4 100. This was an original pressing listed in M- condition for the record and VG++ for the cover. It sold for $2,175. We have seen this one sell for more than $2,000 in the Jazz Collector Price Guide, but this is a new high for us. To me, it’s almost always a surprise when a record sells for more than $2,000. You’d think I’d be used to it by now.
Speaking of $2,000 records, there was also Johnny Griffin, A Blowing Session, Blue Note 1559. This was an original pressing listed in M- condition for the record and VG++ or M- for the cover. In a previous post I admonished the seller for the poor quality of his picture. Turns out the seller is one of our regular readers and, in fact, someone I have had very pleasant dealings with over the years. So I will be a little bit more circumspect in some of my comments. Although, it really was a poor picture. No matter. The record sold for $2,181.
We were finally back on eBay this way and found some interesting items, starting with Introducing Johnny Griffin, Blue Note 1533. This was an original Lexington Avenue pressing, The record was graded in Ex condition, but the seller’s description made it sound closer to M-. I tend to trust the grade rather than the description, and in this case the seller at least tells us that Ex means VG++ in the Goldmine rating system that we use. The cover was probably VG++ as well with some writing on the back. So, to be clear, the record was not in M- condition for either the record or the cover. I reiterate that because it sold at a price you would expect for an M-/M- copy, which was, ta da, $3,349.
The same seller had this one: Jutta Hipp with Zoot Sims, Blue Note 1530. This was an original Lexington Avenue pressing. The seller graded this one between VG and VG+ for both the record and the cover, although the cover sounded closer to VG based on the description. So this one wasn’t M-, wasn’t VG++ and wasn’t even VG+. It sold for $1,651.
Introducing Johnny Griffin, Blue Note 1533. This was an original Lexington Avenue pressing in VG+ condition for the record and VG for the cover. As we are seeing, the prices for records in less than pristine condition seem to be rising, at least if the records are original Blue Notes. This one sold for $710.
Here are a couple of Eric Dolphy records, also in less than pristine condition: Eric Dolphy, Out There, New Jazz 8252. This seemed to be an original purple label pressing listed in VG or VG+ condition for the vinyl and VG+ for the cover. It sold for $177. Eric Dolphy, At the Five Spot Volume 2, Prestige 7294. This was an original yellow label pressing. The record was in just VG condition and the cover was VG+. It sold for $147.50.
Here’s another selection of jazz vinyl we are watching on eBay, starting with Johnny Griffin, A Blowing Session, Blue Note 1559. This is clearly marked as a United Artists pressing. The seller lists it as a 1968 pressing, which I think he’s just making up. As far as I know these United Artists Blue Notes were originally issued for the Japanese market in the late 1970s or early 1980s. In any case, this is in VG++ condition for the record and the cover and is currently at a price of $78. Is it possible that these United Artists Blue Notes are increasing in value to the point where they are becoming collectibles? Or is it perhaps an aberration, some bidders not knowing, some not caring, some not reading the listing carefully enough?
Our friends at Euclid Records have some very nice records on eBay now, including The Unique Thelonious Monk, Riverside 209. This is an original white label pressing listed in VG++ condition for the record and VG+ for the cover. This one is already in the $250 range with nearly four days left on the auction. Here’s another: Read more
Kenny Dorham, Afro-Cuban, Blue Note 1535. This was an original Lexington Avenue pressing that was in very nice M- condition for the record, but just VG for the cover. The cover condition did not seem to dampen the interest by too much. There were 28 bids and the record wound up selling for $1,802.
Johnny Griffin, The Congregation, Blue Note 1580. This looked to be an original pressing in VG++ condition for the record and VG+ for the cover. It has the cover by Andy Warhol, of course. I would have expected this to perhaps get into the $1,000 bin, but it didn’t. It sold for $767.
Jutta Hipp, At the Hickory House Volume 1, Blue Note 1515. This was an original Lexington Avenue pressing in VG++ condition for the record and VG+ for the cover. It sold for $1,164.
Here’s some high-end jazz vinyl collectibles we’re watching on eBay, starting with: Kenny Dorham, Afro-Cuban, Blue Note 1535. This looks to be an original pressing, although the seller could certainly be more forthcoming with details. Then again, the seller has a rating of just 98.1 percent, so that could be a warning right there. The record is listed in M- condition and the cover is VG. The bidding is close to $800 and there are still two and a half days left on the auction.
Another Blue Note: Johnny Griffin, The Congregation, Blue Note 1580. This looks to be an original pressing and, of course, it has the Andy Warhol cover. The record is listed in Ex condition and the cover is listed as VG+. The price is in the $400 range and there are more than two days left in the auction.
This looks like a rerun: