A Couple of Golden Oldies

Pres and teddy copyGlad so many of you are having fun playing with The Stupid List and enjoying it in the context in which I put it out there. Meanwhile, my watch list on eBay is overflowing and I will start with Lester Young and Teddy Wilson, Pres and Teddy, Verve 8205. This is an original pressing with the trumpeter logo. It is listed in what looks to be M- condition for the record and VG for the cover.  The start price is about $10 and so far there are no bids, with five days left on the auction. This is not a record I would normally be watching here and, in fact, the only reason I noticed it was because I am watching some of the seller’s other items. A couple of things strike me. So far, in all of the comments on The Stupid List post, not a single respondent has mentioned Lester Young as a top five favorite jazz artist, which seems somewhat incredible. If Jazz Collector had been around 30 years ago, Pres probably would have been as predominant on the lists as Coltrane or Rollins. It shows how tastes change and, as time gets further away from the musician’s primary artistic contributions, people tend to either forget the influence, or diminish it or, perhaps, just move on to other artists. Louis Armstrong

hasn’t made any of the lists either. I did consider Lester Young for my lists but, in the end, his real contribution came in the pre-bebop era and my favorite artists all seem to be bop and beyond. I find many of Lester’s records from the 1950s on Norgran and Verve to be beautiful and haunting, but on some of them his playing is so sad I actually find it hard to listen to them. I don’t think I’ve ever been that sad in my life, and I certainly hope I never am. That said, IMHO Pres and Teddy is one of the best of the Lester Young Norgran/Verve records and I’ve always loved it. My own copy of this record can use an upgrade, so I may wind up in the action for this auction.

One final note on Lester Young, which is a story I have probably told in the past, but bears repeating. Back in the early 1970s, when Sonny Rollins was playing regularly at clubs, a few friends and I (mostly Dan Axelrod, who is mentioned here often), would go down pretty much every night and listen to Sonny, staying for all of the sets. In those days, you didn’t have to pay a separate music charge for each set, particularly during the week. Sonny began to recognize us after seeing us so often, and he would chat with us occasionally. There was one night where he asked us why we came to see him night after night, and our response was pretty simple: “It’s because you are the greatest!” And we said this and Sonny gave us a half smile and looked at us with a mixture of appreciation and admonishment and shook his head in mild disgust and said something on the order of: “It’s nice of you to say that, but what about Pres? What about Hawk?” Now we all know that Sonny Rollins is too smart to ever do The Stupid List and one of the reasons is because leaving off someone like Lester Young would just be too stupid for him to comprehend. Which is why, in doing this exercise, I am very pleased with myself that I came up with the headline and title of The Stupid List, and I am equally pleased that all of you who are doing it also agree on the stupidity of it.

Watching the Pres and Teddy record caused me to put this record in my queue as well: The Creative Teddy Wilson, Norgran 1019. This is an original yellow label pressing with a David Stone Martin cover. It is listed in M- condition for both the record and the cover. The seller has a start price of about $150 and there are no bids. It’s hard to imagine that there will be any bids in that price range, despite the cover and the originality of the pressing. Again, time marches on and the people who would have known of Teddy Wilson in his prime are gone and tastes have changed. Perhaps if these records were recorded on Blue Note there would be more interest, but I don’t think that’s the real issue: We don’t see much demand for the Sidney Bechet or Art Hodes Blue Note records either.


  • …It’s funny how that list made us start to look back at the music itself, and decide what we truly enjoyed, beyond just what is rare or collectable.
    I spent a lot of time looking over the signed LP’s and collectables hanging on my office wall, before I realized that these treasures would not necessarily make the list, because even though they may have value, it really came down to the music. The minute I posted my response, I couldn’t help putting on some Louis Armstrong Hot Fives / Sevens (It was on my list) just to help reassure myself about what I had been contemplating all afternoon.
    That being said, so many of our selections are great because of who they played with… Granted, any of them playing solo would be amazing, but who knows if their contributions would have been as monumental if not for the sidemen on their small band recordings. Billie Holiday for example was my number one selection, and Lester Young & Teddy Wilson would most certainly been her accompaniment. I wonder how those lists of ours will change in the days, weeks, months and years ahead of us. Thanks for putting it all into perspective Al !

  • I think the fetishizing of Blue Note is interesting especially when you look at everyone’s “Stupid List.” The majority of the people listed recorded very little for Blue Note (e.g. Miles, Coltrane, Monk, and Evans). Although I guess one could argue when some of them did record for Blue Note they produced their seminal work (Coltrane and Dolphy to name two), and a least a few people listed Mobley and Morgan amongst their favorites which albums fetch a premium in the collecting world.

  • GST, excellent note. Very clever. I completely agree with you. Personnally, i’m a huge fan of Blue Note, but i think Blue Note tends to narrow our tastes in Jazz, and has made many of us (including me, of course) ignore many aspects of Jazz music. Everytime i put Stan Getz’s “Sweet Rain” or Rolf Kuhn’s “Streamline” or Freddie Greene “Mr Rhythm” or any Bobby
    Timmons Riverside recording on my turntable i said to myself : “thank god, i quit my Blue Note addiction !!”

  • Collecting and Listening to Great Music is not always the same thing 😉

    It however great when they coincide 😉

  • GST: “A Love Supreme” is not Coltrane’s seminal work!? Blasphemy! 😉

  • GTF: I knew someone would call me out on that ?

    Just think you could own an original NM- copy of A Love Supreme as well as all of Coltrane’s other Impulse and Atlantic albums for the price of a true first NM- pressing of a Blue Train. I know which I would take. Of course if you could afford both…

  • This thread allows us to remember that some of the greatest jazz artists were on major labels for much of their careers. Columbia in the late 1950s alone had Miles, Duke, Armstrong, Brubeck, etc. Within a few years, they had Monk too for a stretch. Those records were never rare and never of great financia value as collectibles. But they were just among the greatest recordings ever. To me, that’s the greater value everytime.

    The Blue Note madness is about collecting RARE records from a small independent label and watching the global market for these commodities heave and sway with the location of yet another NM Hank Mobley or Jutta Hipp lp with Plastylite Ear and deep grooves, etc. I love reading about this here, but my music budget means that I am officially so over the Blue Note collectors market.

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