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.

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A Question of Ridiculous-ness

wes and jimmyI told you there’s always excitement when we’re watching the bobdjukic auctions. CeeDee is back with this note:

SUBJECT: who is paying this kind of bread for these readily found LPs?

BODY TEXT: Al, I give up. I thought I could figure out “what sells and what doesn’t” but I’m finding I have no freakin’ idea!

RECORD IN QUESTION: Wes Montgomery and Jimmy Smith, Further Adventures of Jimmy and Wes, Verve 8766.

CONDITION: Sealed

PRICE: $455

So, for today’s quickie quiz: Which sale is more ridiculous, the Jimmy and Wes one above or the other one cited in the earlier post, namely John Coltrane, The Other Village Vanguard Tapes? This was also sealed and sold for $237.50. Or is there perhaps another that we missed? I vote for Jimmy and Wes being more ridiculous, although it was a close call. At least the Coltrane is a double record and sold for a price that was more than $200 lower than the Jimmy/Wes record.

A Blues Walk & A Visit to A Shrine

Perhaps CeeDee started a trend this week with his guest column. Here’s another from our friend Don-Lucky:

A ‘Blues Walk’ in NYC…

“Lou Donaldson at the Vanguard on Tuesday April 6th, 2010 was one of the best sets I’ve seen there in a while and well worth the long drive down to NYC from Ottawa. The first set began with Lou’s theme song Blues Walk and escalated through a series of standards and into Alligator Boogaloo from there. He was accompanied by Randy Johnston on guitar, Pat Bianchi on the organ, and Fukushi Tainaka on the drums… It didn’t stop there, Dr. Lonnie Smith dropped in to pay his respects for the second set, along with a quick cameo by Roy Hargrove, and a few vocals by singer Champion Fulton. Definitely worth the trip. Although Lonnie seems to think I owed him money from the last time he was in Canada. Don’t ask me why !

As for the rest of the trip, I did manage to drop in on Rudy Van Gelder at his fabled studio in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,  on the way out Wednesday morning. That’s the studio in the picture above. Rudy wanted

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Are Later Pressings on The Rise?

I’m still gathering my thoughts to write the final chapter in my Confessions of a Vinyl Addict but in the meantime, I’ve noticed something interesting: For many of the rare records, it seems even early pressings that are not originals are increasing dramatically in value. We saw a few week ago several of the United Artists Blue Notes selling for more than $400, but those were clearly an aberration created by a seller who seems to have discovered some kind of new method of record sales based on the P.T. Barnum theory of a sucker being born every minute. We’re not talking about those $400 United Artists Blue Notes. But here’s one we were watching this week that was clearly not an original pressing: Sonny Rollins, A Night At the Village Vanguard, Blue Note 1581. This one has the New York USA label, so Read more

Latest Prices: Lee Morgan on Blue Note, Art Pepper, Bird

And here are still more items for the Jazz Collector Price Guide:

Lee Morgan Sextet, Blue Note 1541. This was an original Lexington Avenue pressing. The record was in VG+ condition and the cover was VG. The price was $565.

Miles Davis, Steamin’, Prestige 7200. This was an original pressing with the New Jersey label. The record and cover were M- and the price was $123.50.

Cliff Jordan and John Gilmore, Blowin’ in From Chicago, Blue Note 1549. This was an original

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A Rare Roland Kirk LP, And Some Fond Memories

The other day I was sitting in my room listening to Roland Kirk, Volunteered Slavery, Atlantic 1534 — Side Two, the one that was recorded at the 1968 Newport Jazz Festival. And I was thinking it was a shame that none of his records, other than this one side, ever really captured both his prodigious talents as well as the incredible excitement and amazement he generated with his live performances. I used to see Kirk whenever he would play at the Village Vanguard, and he was a true phenomenon: Three horns strung around his neck to be played in unison; a couple of flutes hanging off his body, including a flute he would play through his nose; various gongs and sirens and alarms and whistles and other noisemakers all aimed at adding various tones and textures to his playing. And his playing — on tenor, on flute, on whatever — was vastly underrated. He could wail and he could swing and he could play ballads and he was just a gifted musician and performer. 

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Some New Items For the Price Guide

Sorry I haven’t posted since yesterday morning. I’ll do a couple tonight to catch up. Meanwhile, I’ve been updating the Price Guide with some new entries. Here are some of the items I’m putting in, no links, just the items and their prices. Keep an eye on the site for a view of upcoming eBay items as well as a review of what happened over the weekend.

Dave Bailey, Reaching Out, Jazztime 003. This was an original pressing in VG+/VG+ condition. Price: $348

Bill Evans, Sunday at the Village Vanguard, Riverside 9376. This was an original stereo pressing with the black label in M-/VG++ condition. Price: $296 Read more

Sonny Rollins: A Birthday Tribute

Tuesday was Sonny Rollins’ 78th birthday. Happy Birthday, Newk.

First time I saw Sonny was in the early 1970s at the Village Vanguard. Sonny wasn’t playing live when I first got into jazz. He was in one of his several retirements. I’d go to clubs in the city and see Bill Evans and Monk and Roland Kirk and Elvin Jones and Jim Hall and they were all great. But Sonny was my hero, and he was the one I was aching to see in person.

So I was quaking with excitement that first gig at the Vanguard, a dark, rainy, gloomy Tuesday night. Who knew what to expect? Read more