Collectible vinyl jazz records run the gamut from some of the earliest blues, ragtime, and Dixieland 78 RPM recordings to bebop, hard bop, and free jazz LPs. Along the way, the genre includes big band swing, West Coast cool, and international flavors.

For collectors of jazz on vinyl, several names are legendary, but not the ones you might first expect. Sure jazz fans want their Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Cab Calloway, and Dave Brubeck, but the names they tend to gravitate to are those of the record labels that recorded the work of these and other geniuses of the art form.

One of the first labels was Brunswick, which in the 1920s was one of the biggest record manufacturers in the U.S. Back then the discs were made out of shellac and ran at 78 RPM. Brunswick artists (along with those of subsidiary label Vocalion) included the likes of Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson—in the 1930s, the company pressed Artie Shaw and Gene Krupa 78s.

Brunswick did such a good job that when England’s Decca records decided to start a U.S. subsidiary, it hired Jack Kapp of Brunswick to run the new company. One of Kapp’s lasting achievements was an 11-year relationship with Louis Armstrong, who recorded 166 tunes for the label. By the 1950s, Brunswick would rerelease many of its recordings from the 1930s and 1940s on LP, bringing Jelly Roll Morton, Art Tatum, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, and Dixieland jazz by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings to new audiences.

Another early jazz label whose 78 records are considered rare and collectible is Bluebird. It began as a budget label for RCA Victor but quickly evolved into a home for the blues, particularly the work of Chicago artists Big Bill Broonzy, Leadbelly, and Sonny Boy Williamson. Blues aside, one of the label’s best-known artists was Glenn Miller, who cut "In the Mood" and many other classics for Bluebird.

Continuing in this colorful vein is Blue Note records, which was founded in 1939 as a home for jazz exclusively. Saxophonist Sydney Bechet was one of the label’s first finds, but Blue Note really hit its stride after the war with recordings by Anita O’Day, Lester Young, Thelonius Monk, Art Blakely, and Max Roach. In the 1950s, Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, Charlie Parker, Lionel Hampton, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, and Kenny Burrell (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg) had all recorded for Blue Note.

For Blue Note collectors, one of the main differentiators in the value of a vinyl LP is the pressing location. The key is the address on the labels on both sides of a record. Pre...

This pressing differentiation is also true for Prestige Records, home to Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli in the 1930s, Duke Ellington and his Orchestra in the 1940s, and Sonny Stitt, Zoot Sims, and the Modern Jazz Quartet in the 1950s. For Prestige, catalog numbers from 7001 to 7141 with a New York City address on the label are generally the most sought after.

Meanwhile, in California, Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Bud Shank, and Laurindo Almeida were recording 10- and 12-inch discs for Pacific Jazz Records, which was founded in 1952 before being gobbled up in 1957 by Liberty Records. These days, Blue Note distributes Pacific’s short-lived, but highly regarded, catalog.

One of the unexpected outlets in the 1950s for some of the original jazz pioneers was Hollywood. For example, Louis Armstrong’s trumpet work and vocals on the soundtrack for the 1956 film High Society contributed to its brisk sales (Bing Crosby’s duet with Grace Kelly, plus other tracks by Frank Sinatra, probably didn’t hurt the disc, either). And Armstrong had another movie-related hit in 1963, when an LP version of Hello Dolly! was released to capitalize on his best-selling single from the film of the same name.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas pays homage to international female opera singers of the LP era. Chronicling more than 800 singers, the… [read review or visit site]



Despite its mysterious title, 317X is plain and simple—an online gallery of vintage LPs, with a 1950s vintage fee… [read review or visit site]

Jesse Barron's collection of Beatles 45s, picture sleeves, magazines, books, and memorabilia. Browse singles and al… [read review or visit site]

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

This great site, from the Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors, offers detailed background information an… [read review or visit site]

The Remington Site

The Remington Site

Since 1999, the Remington Site has offered classical music collectors a glimpse into Remington Records, an independ… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Tommy Wills Lot Of 3 45s Club Miami 50s Jump Jazz R&b Sax Ohio Vg+ Babs Gonzales Preacher/lullaby Of The Doomed 45 Hope Hipster Jazz Vocal Vg+ Babs Gonzales Dem Jive Ny People 45 Crazy Hipster Jazz Vocal Vg+ Cool!Alice Coltrane A Monastic Trio Lp Impulse Spritual Jazz 60s Vg++ Nice! Orig.Doug Carn Infant Eyes Lp Black Jazz Original Soul Jazz Spiritual Vg++Lee Morgan Sextet Blue Note 1541 Rvg Ear Lexington Dg Hank Mobley Horace SilverJutta Hipp At Hickory House Vol 1 Blue Note Dg Rvg Mono Lexington Ave Label Jackie Mclean Bill Hardman Jackie's Pal Original Prestige Lp 7068 50th St Dg RvgJohnny Burnette And The Rock 'n Roll Trio ~ '56 Coral ~ Mono Rockabilly Dg Lp Demon Fuzz- Afreaka Orig 1970 Gatefold Lp Jazz Funk / Prog Clean,top CopyTommy Flanagan - Overseas - Prestige 7134 - Ultra Rare! Donald Byrd Byrd In Hand Blue Note 4019 Rvg Ear 47 West 63rd Dg Pepper AdamsKenny Burrell-blue Lights Volume 2-blue Note 1597-west 63rd Andy Warhol RareSonny Rollins Plays For Bird Original Nyc Prestige Lp 7095 SuperbJohn Coltrane Frank Wess Quinichette Wheelin’ Dealin’ Prestige W 50th Nyc RvgKenny Burrell-blue Lights Volume 1-blue Note 1596-west 63rd Dg Warhol OrigMiles Davis - Ascenseur Pour Lechafaud 1958 French 10" Lp FontanaKenny Burrell/art Blakey-at The Five Spot Cafe-blue Note 4021-west 63rd DgTarika Blue, Rare 1977 Usa Chiaroscuro Record Label Jazz/funk Lp. Kenny Burrell Lp "blue Lights Vol.2" Blue Note Liberty Rvg Andy Warhol Cover NmArt Farmer Septet Original Prestige 7031 Lp W. 50th Nyc Dg Rvg NiceHank Mobley Lp No Room For Squares Blue Note Rec Blp-4149 Hear Dg Mono A+ ScriptJohn Coltrane - A Love Supreme 1964 Uk Lp Hmv Stereo Ex+Duke Jordan Trio Quintet Cecil Payne Signal Mono RvgSonny Rollins 'sound Of Sonny' Original 1957 Riverside Lp Nice Horace Silver Quintet 6 Pieces Of Silver Blue Note 1539 Rvg Ear Lexington DgMiles Davis Lp "blue Haze" Original Prestige W50th Nyc Rvg D/g Vg+/vg++Cannonball Adderley Somethin Else 1st Blue Note 1595 Lp Dg W 63 Ear Rvg 9m Ex-Sonny Rollins Saxophone Colossus Vinyl Lp Mono Dg Original Rvg Prestige Lp 7079 Jazz Messengers At Cafe Bohemia Volume 2 Blue Note 1508 Rvg Ear Lexington BlakeyLou Donaldson Lp "here It 'tis" Original Blue Note W63rd/ny,usa Rvg Ear VgHuge Salsa Lot Lp Johnny Chano Martinez Revolution Latin Jazz Sonotropic FaniaTrio Madjesi / Afro Funk Groove Zaire 70s - Killer Doublesider - Ex. Condition.Horace Silver Hank Mobley Stylings 1st Blue Note 1562 Lp Dg W 63 Ear Rvg 9m Beverly Kenney Come Swing With Me Roost Lp 2212 Dg Ralph Burns Orchestra JazzThe Heath Brothers Marchin' On Lp Strata-east Spiritual Jazz Breaks Funk OrgHank Mobley Peckin' Time Blue Note Bn 1574 Japanese Pressing Vinyl LpJazz Bop Helen Merrill Emarcy Dg Drummer Label Ymg 36006 Mf1/mf2 C. Brown Vg+Bobby Montez Jungle Fantastique Lp Orig Mono Latin Jazz Exotica Jubilee Vg++1958Charlie Mingus Jackie Mclean Pithecanthropus Erectus 1st Atlantic 1237 Lp Dg Nm-Hank Mobley~soul Station~blue Note 4031 Mono Rvg And Ear Mark (g)Zoot Sims Goes To Jazzville Dawn Mono Dg LpHank Mobley Roll Call Blue Note Bn 4058 Japanese Pressing Obi Vinyl LpAfro National Sonafric Lp Saf 5114 Rare Afrobeat Collectible Lp Funk Jazz FranceDonald Byrd In Flight Blue Note Bn 4048 Japanese Pressing Obi Vinyl LpDuke Pearson Profile Blue Note W 63rd Nyc Dg Rvg MonoJackie Mclean "mclean's Scene" Lp New Jazz Prestige Purple Label Dg Rvg OriginalBlink 182 California Lp Red Black Splatter Vinyl *sealed* Alkaline Trio NofxHorace Silver Quintet Tokyo Blues Blue Note Bn 4110 Japanese Pressing Obi LpRare Sealed Minority Band Journey To The Shore Private Jazz Funk Only 500 Made Don Rendell The Jazz Committee Decca Ep 1959 Nr Mint CondMiles Davis Bitches Brew Cbs/sony 36ap 1771,2 Japanese Pressing Obi Vinyl 2lpBlue Note 1534 Whims Of Chambers By The Paul Chambers Sextet, Lexington/w. 63rdHerbie Hancock Lp Takin Off 1962 Blue NoteBeverly Kenney Born To Be Blue Rare Stereo Original Dg Lp Jazz Vocal Decca 78850Joel Fairstein Umbra Nr Mint Rare Private Spiritual Jazz Psych '78 ThunderheadGil Melle-self-titled Feat Lou Mecca On Blue Note Jazz 10"-nm, Mono, Dg, Rvg, LeJohnny Griffin Introducing Blue Note Bn 1533 Japanese Pressing Obi Mono Vinyl LpHerbie Hancock Inventions And Dimensions Blue Note Mono 4147 Ny Usa Ear DgRare Rockabilly 10" Lp Johnny Burnette & Rock'n'roll Trio Red/brown Wax Coral Re