Jazz and the City

I’ve had several interesting jazz-related experiences over the past few weeks, but I’ve been so busy with my real work I haven’t had a chance to share them with you. Until now.

Number One: I had cousins visiting from England. One of them had never been to New York before. He’s a musician and wanted to see some music. It was a Monday night. Go to just about any city, and seeing good jazz on a Monday night would be a difficult proposition. But this was New York. There were many choices, but for me there was only one: The Vanguard, of course, with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, which is still the Thad Jones – Mel Lewis Orchestra to me. I hadn’t been to the Vanguard on a Monday night in probably 10 years, which is kind of ridiculous when you think about it since it is only a 20-minute subway ride away from my apartment. Anyway, I went online for reservations and it was sold out. Same thing when I called. We went anyway, arriving early. And we got in. The band was in fine form. They had just finished doing their annual weekly gig at the Vanguard, and seemed particularly tight. The band’s personnel has evolved over the years, but there were definitely a lot of familiar faces, including the tenor player Ralph LaLama, from whom I once took about four lessons 30 years ago. Somehow, I didn’t think he’d remember me, at least not fondly, so I didn’t actually say hello. But I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and would highly recommend a visit to the Vanguard, particularly on a Monday night, to anyone visiting New York. But, if you can, make reservations early. It seems to be a destination for jazz lovers from all around the world.

Read more

When You’re Smilin’

jutta-hipp-jazz-vinylNow that I have no election to obsess over, and I don’t yet have the appetite to read about what will happen next to my wonderful country, I have more time to listen to records, read about jazz and look at the always interesting activity on eBay. So, perhaps, I will do more Jazz Collector posts and finally set aside time to put into the Jazz Collector Price Guide, which can really use an update. Look for the silver lining, as the wonderful song says.

Anyway, here are a few of items that recently sold on eBay, starting with Jutta Hipp with Zoot Sims, Blue Note 1530. This was an original Lexington Avenue pressing listed in VG++ condition for the record and VG+ for the cover, with some visible staining on the back cover that could be a turn off for some buyers, but obviously was not that big a turn off for the buyer of this copy, who paid $2,850.88. In fact, looking over the cover pictures again, it looks like VG+ is a pretty generous grade. I have an absolutely clean version of this record that I purchased from the Bruce M. West collection in Baltimore, thoughts of which always put a smile on my face.

Read more

An Evening of Jazz History

Moanin Jazz VinylI 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

Ella and Louis as Rare Jazz Vinyl

Well, this is one of my all-time favorite records, but when did it become a high-priced commodity: Ella and Louis, Verve 4003. This is an original pressing in M- condition. I don’t often find myself watching copies of this on eBay, because it rarely gets to the $50 threshold. This one, however, has a bunch of bidders and is already in the $150 range with a few hours to go. Any guesses as to the reason for the high price on this one?

Now for this one I can understand a high price: Lou Donaldson Sextet Volume 2, Blue Note 5055. This is an original 10-inch pressing that seems to be in about VG+ condition for the vinyl and VG++ for the cover. There are nearly four days to go and the price is in the $225 range. By the way, I think I’ve convinced the lovely Mrs. JC to allocate four solid shelves of space in our new New York apartment for 10-inch LPs, which will probably cover 250-plus records. Not my full 10-inch collection, but more than enough to sustain me. And perhaps I will get back to eBay and sell some of the others. Still looking for a permanent home for my 78s, which is a bit more complicated because there are more of them and because they include both individual records and albums as well. I’ll keep you posted.


Tales of the Hunt: Tribute To A Friend

Nick From Brooklyn is back with another in his ongoing Tales of the Hunt series. Enjoy.

It was, I believe, 1993 and a friend had called me and asked me to track an arranger by the name of Larry Lucie. At the time I did not know it would be the most rewarding journey I would have of all the people I came in contact with in the music business. After looking for a couple of days on and off, I came up with his name in New York’s Union Book for musicians under “Guitar.” I called his home phone number and explained that I was a dealer and collector of jazz. As soon as I said jazz he invited me over to his home, which I think was on 43rd Street and 9th Avenue. When I arrived it was like I was a lost friend, he greeted me with a welcome I will always remember, he was what I call a Teddy Bear of a guy. We went up to his apartment, we started talking about jazz and he started telling me stories about who he played with, and I sat there

Read more

Sealed Giant Steps? $2,025? Huh?

I know this is going to give some of you a heart attack: That sealed copy of Giant Steps of unknown provenance sold for $2,025.55. What happens with something like that? Does the buyer even open it? If he does, what if it’s just a standard red and green label? What happens? I think it’s amazing that this seller is able to get these prices for some of his offerings. But I do wonder if there’s an alternate reality going on that we’re not aware of, like whether there is one set of buyers that are completely rapt by his marketing wizardry and only bid on his stuff and are not bidding on any other records. Here are a couple of other auctions we were watching from him: Louis Armstrong at the Crescendo Volume 2, Decca 8169. This is a pretty routine record that you could probably find pretty regularly for $10 or $20 at a weekend record show. This one sold for $103.50. How about: Billie Holiday, Lady in Satin, Columbia 8048? This was a 6-eye stereo pressing. Nothing special, right? This one sold for $157.55. As I was copying the picture of Giant Steps, I took another look at the listing. Someone asked about the label and this was the seller’s reply:

Read more

For Sale: Louis Armstrong Autograph

I just posted an interesting item on The Jazz Collector Store on eBay: A copy of the Louis Armstrong autobiography Satchmo, My Life In New Orleans, which is autographed by Louis Armstrong. It is signed in large print on the title page: “To Joel From Satchmo Louis Armstrong.” The Satchmo is underlined. I have a receipt stating that I paid $270 for this item nearly 10 years ago, but I just posted it for $200. I did a quick search on eBay and there are not that many Armstrong autographs available and none quite as strong as this one, since it is an inscribed autobiography. Since the item is in the store and not up on auction, it could go fast, so I wanted to make sure I gave a heads-up to all of you who read Jazz Collector in case you wanted to grab it. If you buy it and tell me you read about it at Jazz Collector, I’ll give you an additional $10 discount. Can’t beat that.

In Search of the Highest Prices

I was just tooling around eBay this morning and decided to do a quick search in the Jazz LP category sorted by “Highest Prices First.” I’d never thought to do a search this way and didn’t even realize it was an option. Here are some of the interesting items I found:

Here Comes Louis Smith, Blue Note 1584

Lee Morgan, Indeed, Blue Note 1538

Freddie Redd, Shades of Redd, Blue Note 4045. This is one of my favorite all-time LPs. I only have a Japanese pressing and have never owned the original. Will I bid on this? Perhaps. The price is $150 and the auction closes in nearly four days.

And here’s one you wouldn’t expect to see on a search of highest priced LPs: Louis Armstrong, Hello Dolly. This is from a seller with zero feedback. His asking price is $100. Think he’ll get it? If he does, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’ll be auctioning on eBay next week.

Collecting Autographs

It’s always surprised me that jazz collectors seem to place only marginal value in autographed albums or other memorabilia.  There are exceptions of course: A Charlie Parker signature on a contract or a Billie Holiday inscription on a book are extraordinarily rare collectibles that fetch a small fortune whenever they appear on eBay or on auction lists from dealers.

But my experience is that autographs don’t necessarily do much to enhance the value of a collectible. To test this, I recently did a search of completed auctions on eBay in the category of jazz using the key word “autographed.” The results confirmed my theory:

Read more