Merry day after Christmas everyone. It is good to be back. Let’s catch up on a few jazz records we were watching on eBay, starting with an old standby: Miles Davis, Kind of Blue, Columbia 1355. This an original white label promo copy. The record looked to be in VG++ condition and the cover was VG+. The final price was $496, which isn’t bad for a promo copy. We’ve seen them sell for more than $1,000 fairly consistently in nice shape, and one even broke the $2,000 barrier, according to Popsike. To me, this is a record where the condition of the cover would be important, since the black cover tends to fade and, for a promo copy, a nice, sharp, minty cover would be nice. Perhaps other potential bidders felt the same way, which kept the bidding at a reasonable level? I have a couple of original pressings of Kind of Blue, both in nice shape, but I’ve never owned a promo copy. Still don’t.
Let’s look at a few from Prestige and related labels today, starting with Hank Mobley, Mobley’s Message, Prestige 7061. This was an original New York yellow label pressing listed as being in “pristine” condition from a reliable seller. The final price was $715.99, which strikes me as quite a bargain for this record in this condition. Or at least as much as any record for $715 can be a bargain. With this personnel — Mobley, McLean, Byrd, Barry Harris, Doug Watkins and Art Taylor — what would this record go for if it was on the Blue Note Label. I think we’d probably be looking in our metaphorical $2,000 bin.
Back online again and tracking some of my favorite jazz records on eBay, starting with Jackie McLean, McLean’s Scene, New Jazz 8212. This is an original deep groove purple label pressing. The record is listed in VG+ or perhaps better condition and the cover is VG++. The start price is about $200 and so far there are no bidders with more than five days left. This one will get action, right?
Miles Davis, Kind of Blue, Columbia 1355. This is an original white label promotional copy. The record is listed in M- condition and the cover is Ex or Ex+ condition. There are more than four days left on the auction and the bidding is in the $170 range, with 13 bids. Curious to see where this ends up. We were watching a promo Kind of Blue a few weeks ago that had a $600 start price and no bidders — but it also had some condition questions. We have seen promo copies sell for as much as $2,700 in the past, but this one will not get to that level.
Thanks to all for keeping the site current during my unexpected and prolonged absence. More than 60 comments and counting on the last item is quite impressive. I will try not to do that too often, but I was able to get a much-needed break from life and work and spend some time with The Lovely Mrs. JC in beautiful Provincetown, Ma., where we got to sit on the beach, view the eclipse, eat lobster and marvel at the beautiful sunsets and scenery. Now that I am back I feel compelled to at least catch up on some of the ongoing conversations and items I was watching before I left.
Let’s start with the riff on listening or not listening to our records. I don’t begrudge anybody their preferences on how to collection. As far as I’m concerned, it’s your money, your time, your enjoyment. Do whatever you want. As for me, I find that, in reality, my approach is somewhat mixed. I have no problem at all putting any of my records on my turntable and, in fact, take tremendous pleasure in listening to the real rarities in their original form and format. Just the other day I put on my beautiful mint original pressing of Saxophone Colossus, poured a glass of Porter and listened from beginning to end. Sheer ecstasy. And a few days before that, I took my portable Califone record player out to the porch here in The Berkshires and brought out a bunch of original 78s — Fats Waller, Louis Jordan, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday and Lester Young. Again, sheer ecstasy.
Promo records have never seemed to be a big thing in the Jazz Collector world, at least not compared to other genres, but there are some promo records that seem to catch collector’s eyes, including Miles Davis, Kind of Blue, Columbia 1355. This looks to be an original mono pressing with the red and white promo labels and the 6-eyes. The seller talks about the record being in “nice shape” but doesn’t actually give a grade and mentions a scratch that cuts across side B. All of that would be somewhat OK for gamblers, but it is also a seller that does not accept returns. A lot of risk to ask, IMHO, for a record that has a start price of $600. So far there are no takers. A quick view over at Popsike shows that a promo copy of Kind of Blue recently sold for $2,700, so the seller is probably not coming from left field with that price tag. We’ll keep a watch and see if it sells. My bet? Yes, it will.
I was watching a recent auction on eBay from the Jazz Record Center focused on books, magazines, programs and other ephemera. I was curious because I have amassed a large collection of this type of stuff over the years, including duplicates, and I’m thinking about scaling back what I have, including the idea of adding a storefront to the Jazz Collector site. Just thinking about it at this stage, and I am not always the best at turning thoughts into action, so don’t anyone get too excited. Anyway, one of the items that caught my eye was this book: Four Lives in the BeBop Business, by A.B. Spellman. This was a first edition and the Jazz Record Center put a start price of $65 on it. And I was thinking, I have a copy of this and if someone offered me $65 I’m pretty sure I would sell it. But there were no bids on this item, so I have no idea at this point what the real market value would be.
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).