Just back from a brief holiday in San Francisco and lovely Creede, Colorado, where my son directed a play. I seem to be picking up exactly where I left off, with another note from Ceedee bemoaning, in a jocular way, the latest adventures in Blue Note prices. Let’s start with Miles Davis, Volume One, Blue Note 1501. This was an original Lexington Avenue pressing listed in M- condition for the record and Ex for the cover. The final price was $1,125. No surprise there. I have to admit to you all that I recently passed on a lovely collection that contained a copy of this record in even better condition. The records in the collection were in beautiful condition but, unfortunately for me, there weren’t enough records that I didn’t already own to make it worth my while. I would have had to spend months on eBay to get back the return on my investment and I would have added some gems to the collection but, as you can probably surmise, I am just too busy with my regular work to devote my energies to selling records these days.
Here are a few items from our email inbox, starting with a note from a producer of a planned documentary about the pianist Junior Mance. It seems a lot of the film’s focus will be on Mance’s relationship with his wife Gloria, his career and his battle with dementia. I took a look at the trailer and it definitely seems a worthwhile project. In addition to posting this comment, I made a contribution to the Kickstarter campaign to support the movie. I first became aware of Mance on his early albums as a sideman with Cannonball Adderley and Johnny Griffin/Lockjaw Davis. He always had a big soulful sound, somewhat underrated as both a soloist and as a sideman, IMHO. It would be nice to see a documentary tribute to his life and work. Speaking of which, I am hoping to see the Lee Morgan documentary this weekend and I’ll have an update soon on the Coltrane documentary “Chasing Trane” next week since the movie is opening soon in New York.
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?
So this auction closed the other day: Hank Mobley, Blue Note 1568. This was in VG++ condition for he record and M- for the cover and did not have the New York 23 label. The final price was $5,127.51. Interesting that the following record, from the same era, is somehow valued at more than $4,000 less than the Mobley: Cliff Jordan, Blue Note 1565. This was also an original pressing, probably in VG++ condition for the record and maybe VG+ or VG++ for the cover. It sold for $897.69. Still a hefty price for sure, but still the discrepancy is quite a spread. Do you think there are really that many fewer copies of the Mobley available on the market? Or is it hype that the Mobley record is widely known as one of the rarest of the rare? Or is it that the Mobley simply a better record? There’s really no way to make judgments about these things, IMHO: The market is the market and that’s what decides the value. So, whatever the reason, the market has deemed Blue Note 1568 to be perhaps the most valuable jazz record of the Jazz Collector era. Ours is not to reason why, ours is just to sell and buy (or something like that).
Catching up on my eBay watch list, and starting with this one because I dig the cover and don’t recall ever seeing it before: Miles Davis, Dig Featuring Sonny Rollins, Esquire 32-062. This was an original British pressing and there’s just something cool about these Esquire covers. The record was in VG++ condition and the cover was VG+. The final price was $182.50. For those of you commenting on the earlier posts about alternatives to paying top dollar for U.S. originals on Prestige, these UK pressings look like a pretty good deal to me. And from my experience, the sound is equal to the U.S. pressings. (But, alas, there is no comparable alternative for the Blue Note fanaticos out there, is there?)
Speaking of original Prestiges, there was also this on our watch list: Read more
Here are a few collectible rare jazz records we are following this week on eBay, starting with Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants, Prestige 3. This is the 16-RPM version of the record and it is, of course, an original pressing. The condition doesn’t look so great and the seller is asking for a starting price of $400 so it is not going to be of interest to me as a potential buyer, but I do have interest in the record as an oddity. Does anyone own this record and, if so, have you ever listened to it — indeed, do you have equipment to listen to it? Is the sound better, worse, the same as a 33-RPM record? And finally, does anyone have any idea why Prestige issued this record and several others in the 16-RPM format? Inquiring minds want to know.
Here are a couple more nice Prestiges from the Jazz Collector era:
I’d like to get back to some of the records we were watching, starting with Duke Jordan, Flight to Jordan, Blue Note 4046. This was an original West 63rd Street pressing that was in VG+ or better condition for the record, and probably around VG++ for the cover. When we looked at it the bidding was in the $300 range and we were surprised it was that low, expecting it to eventually end up at or near the $1,000 bin. It did, selling for $960. So what may have seemed like an aberration, was just a product of later bidding, which has been de rigueur on eBay for many years, so no surprises. Same with this one: Doug Watkins at Large, Transition 20. This was an original pressing with the booklet. The record, cover and booklet were all in about VG+ condition. The bidding came in late, but about as expected, with the record selling for $809.
Once again we find another record that is unfamiliar to us, this one sent in courtesy of our friend CeeDee: Art Farmer and Phil Woods, What Happens?, Campi SJG 12001. This was an original Italian promo pressing from 1969. It was listed in M- condition for the record and VG++ for the cover. It sold for $355. I did a quick search to learn more about the record but pretty much came up empty. That’s why it’s nice to have the Jazz Collector community weigh in with our collective knowledge. So, friends, what’s the story behind this record and the label?
I think a lot of us had our eye on this one: Hank Mobley, Blue Note 1568. This was an original original pressing, with the New York 23 on one side. The record and cover were both listed in VG+ condition. The final price was $3,998. There were 11 bidders. Given the rarity of this record, the price of nearly $4,000 seems to be market-appropriate, even with the VG+ condition. Based on the description, I’m sure the buyer is expecting this to be somewhat under-graded, particularly since there can be such a wide span within the VG+ category, don’t you think?
Our friends at funkyousounds are back on eBay with some nice jazz vinyl closing this week, including Johnny Griffin, The Kerry Dancers, Riverside 420. This looks to be an original blue label pressing with deep grooves. The record is listed in VG++ condition and the cover is VG. The auction closes later today and the price is in the $170 range. Donald Byrd, Fuego, Blue Note 4026. This is an original West 63rd Street deep groove pressing. The record and cover both look to be in VG+ condition. The bidding is in the $220 range with one more day to go. One more: Miles Davis, The New Miles Davis Quintet, Prestige 7014. This looks to be an original pressing with the New York hello label and the original green cover. The record is listed in VG++ condition and the cover is VG+. The price is now in the $300 range, also with one more day on the auction.
I didn’t think this one was a collectible, but there it is being auctioned by the Jazz Record Center with a start price of $100, so it must have collectible value to someone somewhere: Boppin’ With the Chet Baker Quintet, Prestige 7512. This is a stereo pressing with the purple label. I can’t recall any purple label Prestige selling for $100 or more, so I am somewhat surprised to see this one here. We’ll see what happens. On a side note, I saw the Chet Baker bio-pic the other day, Born to Be Blue. Very good film, well done, with a nice performance by Ethan Hawke as Chet. I also saw the Nina Simone bio-pic, Nina, with Zoe Saldana in the title role. There was a lot of controversy about this one because they chose a very light-skinned actress with very white features to play Simone. Anyway, I can’t believe I made it through the whole movie. It was so bad. Don’t bother. And, if you’re a Simone fan, REALLY don’t bother. It will just make you angry. I just noticed that the new Miles Davis bio-pic, Miles Ahead, with Don Cheadle as Miles, is playing up here in The Berkshires this weekend, so that may be next on my agenda.