Guest Column: Collecting Jazz 45s

A couple of weeks ago friend of Jazz Collector Erich Schultz asked why we never wrote about  collecting jazz 45s here at Jazz Collector. We said that we didn’t collect them ourselves, we didn’t know of any collectors and no one had ever even asked. We also invited him to write a post on the joys of collecting jazz 45s and, voila, here it is. Erich, it’s all yours:

Collecting Jazz 45 RPM Records, by Erich Schultz

Although I have a large library of jazz 10” and 12” 33 RPM records, I also have over 1,000 jazz 45 RPM records as well. I starting collecting these 45’s about five years ago, and I have picked up most of them in the Los Angeles area when I visit my two children (I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.) I also get them sometimes through bulk sales on ebay. My reasons for collecting them include:

  • They are a great way to introduce jazz to individuals who don’t have the attention or patience to listen to an entire album. Many of the folks who visit us like listening to 50’s and 60’s doo-wop, surf and rock and roll 45’s (I have a lot of those as well.) However, they seem to get interested when I play jazz 45’s at the same time (I get my jazz converts on person at a time!)
  • The 45’s are portable, easy to store, and are small time capsules of history. Most of my jazz 45’s are from the 1950’s and early 1960’s. Many have two songs on each side, which are the EP (extended play) issue series that were designed to capture (in two discs) the same music that was contained in the 10” albums;
  • They are inexpensive to procure. Most of my jazz 45’s cost less that $5 each, with most being in the $1-2 dollar range. I have purchased 4 disc boxed sets for as little as $3;
  • They have great album cover art, which in many cases is identical to the album cover art of the larger 10” and 12” discs;
  • The record label designs are fundamentally different than their LP counterparts, and are quite distinctive (my favorite 45 labels are Blue Note, Prestige, Fantasy, Clef, Verve and Riverside);
  • They sound great; almost all of the 45’s I have are on mono, and many are in VP++ to NM- condition;
  • It’s very easy to do arrangement, instrument or other comparative surveys. For example, if I am interested in 1958 styles of tenor saxophonists, I can put on 7-8 45’s and within an hour have a good comparison;
  • The A and B side song choices make for some interesting contrasts. In many cases (the Shorty Rogers 45’s being an example) a significant portion of the musicians are different between the A and B sides.

Here are some of my favorite jazz 45’s, most of which are the two-song-per-side extended play versions. The years listed are the recording dates, not the date the records were issued:

  • Jimmy Smith, All Day Long (Parts 1 and 2), Blue Note #1676, 1957
  • Cal Tjader Quintet, Mamblues/Sonny Boy, Fantasy #538, 1958
  • Shorty Rogers and His Giants, The Pesky Serpent/Diablo’s Dance/Pirouette/Indian Club, RCA Victor EP-3137, 1953
  • Sonny Rollins, The Last Time I Saw Paris/Just In Time, Riverside #604, 1957
  • Sonny Rollins, Decision (Parts 1 and 2), Blue Note #1669, 1956
  • Sarah Vaughn, Poor Butterfly/April Given Me One More Day, Mercury #71085, 1957
  • George Wallington Trio, Hyacinth/Joy Bell/I Didn’t Know What Time It Was/It Was Find and Dandy, Savoy XP-8125, 1951
  • Charlie Parker, Kim/Cosmic Rays/I Hear Music/Laird Baird, Clef EP-209, 1953
  • Zoot Sims, There I’ve Said It Again/Jaguar/Dream/Baby Won’t You Please Come Home, Prestige EP-1306, 1953
  • The Gerry Mulligan Quartet, Bernie’s Tune/Lullaby of the Leaves/Frensi/Nights at the Turntable, Pacific Jazz EP4-13, 1956
  • Bob Brookmeyer and Phil Orso, Wizzard’s Gizzard/Ozzie’s Ode/Chiketa/Stop Watch, Savoy XP-8118, 1954
  • Howard Rumsey’s Lighthouse All-Stars, Bernie’s Tune/All the Things You Are, Contemporary EP-C4004, 1953
  • Milt Jackson Orchestra (arranged by Tadd Dameron), ‘Round Midnight/Namesake, Riverside 45479, 1962

I hope you enjoyed reading this brief article. I realize that not many collectors have jazz 45’s, but it is an interesting facet of record and label history. Many independent record labels survived on their 45 sales, and the 45 format did allow increased accessibility for teenagers and ultimately allowed them control over their music tastes instead of what their parents dictated.

18 comments

  • I like the 45’s because it seems to me that the majority have different takes than the LP. This is especially true of the CTI label tracks. CTI LP’s have 4 or 5 8-12 minute tracks, which will not fit on a 45, so the takes have to be shorter. Many 45’s also have non-LP tracks on one side.

  • thanks for posting, erich. I must say, here in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, you don’t often find jazz 45’s. I have the idea that singles-collecters are mostly rock,pop and soul orientated.
    Do the BN singles also have a RVG in deadwax?
    And do you have a list with all the issued singles of a particualar label, like you can find for 12″ records?
    Is it possible for you to collect “all of them”, or are we talking rediculous numbers here?

  • Maarten, the Blue Notes do have RVG stamped on both sides in both the Lexington Ave. and W. 63rd Street addresses (which appear on the very top of the label.) The matrix numbers are not machine stamped (they are hand written.) There is no “ear” symbol on any issue. There are a number of very good 45 discographys that you can access on the web, but some labels are surprising hard to research (Pacific Jazz and Clef being two of them.) I have not tried to collect all of one label, because some had over 400+ they issued. Therefore, I am just collecting the jazz artists I like, and (from the 1950’s) they tend to be the ones that I have 10″ records from as well.

  • Erich,

    Nice article. Don’t drop your antique train lock collection on your vinyl collection.

  • Erich,
    interesting article indeed.
    I for one noticed that the sound of 45’s is better than 33’s, which in turn are better than 16’s.
    The Clefs and Pacific Jazz albums, and Contemporary too, have nice art work. Since I am digging William Claxton, I have several Pacific Jazz EP’s just for the art work. E.g. the Russ Freeman 10′ LP came in 2 EP’s: one with the reproduced LP cover and one with another cover.
    I have the Clifford Brtown Ensemble on EP because of unissued takes, which were not on 12″ LP and even not on CD! Dittto for the Chet Baker Sextet album.
    If you want details, let me know.

  • I have three or four Jazz 45s that I obtained through neighbours and family who simply gave them to me to clean out their attic; usually boxes full of sixties and seventies hits, but sometimes there was ‘something jazzy’ in there too, probably from grandma or grandpa. I always stored them nicely in my record cabinet but I also never really paid attention to them. I know there’s one in there with four tracks, pressed on red, see-through, vinyl. I’ll make pictures of it later on and share them here with y’all. Great article, thank you Erich 😉 Mattyman, The Netherlands.

  • My interest in 45’s is limited in a few records that have been issued only in that format.To name a few:there’re 2 Chet Baker on italian RCA in which Chet sings in italian:”Motivo su raggio di luna” c/w “Il mio domani” and “Chetty’s lullaby” c/w “So che ti perderò”.
    Being a Coltrane’s gigafan I’ve a unique version of Greensleeves on Impulse 45-203.Also a reduced version in two parts of Ascension (same cover).And maybe the first recorded Gato Barbieri,not yet Gato but Leandro,on obscure Argentinian label “P”.Recently on Ebay I purchased Ornette Coleman “Man on the moon” on french Stateside.With the exception of Ascension,all the others were in the blood,sweat and tears price range.

  • Reading, as Rudolf notes, that the jazz 45s have better sound than the 33s and 16s of course makes me rue the day I gave away my own jazz 45s and, unfortunately, a number my parents owned. Who knows? Maybe some of those are now part of Erich’s collection!

  • And, as promised in my earlier reply, are the PHOTOS that I took of the Jazz 45s that I have in my record cabinet.

    Please click HERE, folks!

    I especially like the first one, since it contains 4 great Jazz tracks.

    Maybe Erich knows a thing or two about these three singles. I don’t know anything about the first one, since it has no artist or musician information. The Art Blakey indeed is live as the back cover suggests and the Jimmy McGriff might as well have been an up-tempo Jimmy Smith recording.

    I’m curious and it was great to unearth these old gems from my collection! 😉

    Mattyman, The Netherlands

  • Mattyman, unfortunately I don’t know anything about the jazz 45’s you posted. They look terrific but I have never seen them for sale. I am very pleased with all of the posts on this article, and I thank everybody for their feedback. Right now I am listening to a Clef 45 from the Teddy Wilson trio, titled Darn That Dream. I also just listened to the World Pacific Records 45 of Gerry Mulligan titled Crazy Day. Both seem timeless to me.

  • mattyman: you know perhaps that the Art Blakey on Fontana is made up of music not issued anywhere else.

  • Hello Erich, I’m glad you like the photos that I shared with you all here, especially since you’re the 45 expert! 😉

    And Rudolf, I did not know that the Art Blakey contains music that is not issued anywhere else, but you are right: there are CD releases available of Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers recorded live at Olympia Music Hall, Paris (November 22 and December 17, 1958) and indeed: “Blues March” and “Whisper Not” are not on those CDs!

    That means that from now on I will treat these 45s with the utmost care. If anyone is interested in the music on my 45s, then I don’t mind emailing an MP3 your way, but I’m not sure if Al is OK with that.

    Please let me know and if it is OK, then I will leave my email address here so that those who are interested can contact me.

    Mattyman, The Netherlands.

  • I have the French Fontana LP (green labels/red cover) version of the Olympia concert. The corresponding Dutch Fontana LP was issued in small quantities only. After the memorable 29/11/1958 concert in Scheveningen by the Jazz Messengers, the Blue Note album # 4003 became a top seller in Holland, like the 3 live recordings by the Messengers on French RCA 430.043 thru .045 at Club St Germain (21/12/1958). It is strange that the native Dutch Fontana pressing, with the grey photo cover of Art and black/grey labels, was never a big seller in Holland.

  • Well, Rudolf, that information puts the 45 that I have in a whole new perspective for me.

    Now I’m curious about that full LP which obviously does not contain the tracks on the 45 as featured in my photo album in my earlier response.

    But since I recently started “diggin’ in the crates” as one of the regulars here mentioned, I have been quite lucky. Maybe I’ll find that Dutch Fontana LP after all. If that’s the case I will of course share the photos with you all here!

    Mattyman, The Netherlands.

  • Hello Erich,

    Better late than never…but I’d like to respond on your Charlie Parker EP. I got a European pressing of this EP by GEP 12574, same cover with also Clef EP 209 on it.
    Do you know the value?

    Like to hear from you!
    jazzy greetz,
    Ben Korzelius, Dordrecht, The Netherlands

  • There are two kinds of jazz 45s, the EP (extended play) with covers and longer playing time, and the regular singles, with one tune on each side. These latter were generally made for juke boxes and were edited versions of LP cuts.

    The first 45s were made by RCA Victor in 1949 and were simply more compact versions of 78s. There’s tons of interesting stuff starting then and up to the LP era in the late 50s.

    Often, they would take an LP track and make it into Parts 1 & 2. I have Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things” on a blue & silver Atlantic 45 that way. Other times, it would simply be edited from the LP, as with “Cristo Redentor” on Blue Note or Eddie Harris’s less-than-two-minute “Exodus” on Vee-Jay, which became a hit single on top 40 radio.

  • I have about two dozen rare jazz 45’s, from the 50’s and early 60’s, that I’m willing to sell so I can add to a college fund for my granddaughter. Adderly, Baker, Blakey, Jamal, Rogers, Holiday, Mulligan, Parlan, Silver, Tjader etc .. incl I believe an extremely rare Clef EP from Lester Young (Clef EP-174).
    Complete list available:
    pjacobs10@stny.rr.com
    Phil (Endwell, NY)

  • David (Akron, Ohio)

    As Erich pointed out, 45s are a nice way to work on your collection without spending yourself poor. At least in my area (Midwest), 45s have been ignored and mistreated. Not many things are sadder than seeing a crate of 45s – or any records for that matter – treated like garbage. Those who respect and preserve the medium will be rewarded.

    If you aspire to be a completist with a particular artist, you must have everything, even the CDs, 8-tracks, cassettes, and reels – however that is another topic for another article. Thank you for publishing the article.

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