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    

Blue Mitchell Cup Bearers Lp Riverside Mono 50s Jazz Vg+ NiceKenny Dorham Una Mas Blue Note 4127 60s Jazz Mono Ny Dg Rvg Ear Vg- Plays OkSonny Rollins Moving Out Lp Prestige 50s Jazz Mono 447 Dg Rvg Vg- Plays OkHank Mobley-blue Note 1550,mono,deep Groove,ear Logo In Deadwax,474 W.63rd,ny 23Lou Donaldson Quartet Nm- Blue Note 1537 Lexington Dg Flat Edge Rvg Ear '57 LpHank Mobley-mobley's 2nd Message,prestige,mono,nyc Address,rvg In DeadwaxKenny Burrell ~ Blue Lights Vol. 1 ~ Dg ~ Andy Warhol Blue Note ~ Rare!Inner Space Vinyl Record Rare Original '73 Festival Records Sven Libaek Oz Jazz Kenny Burrell ~ Blue Lights Vol. 2 ~ Andy Warhol Blue Note ~ Rare!Eric Dolphy - Out To Lunch Us Lp Blue Note Van Gelder Nr MintAzimuth - "s/t" Jazz Funk Prog Psych 1975 Orig. 1st Press Som Livre Lp BrazilArt Taylor ~ Taylor's Tenors ~ New Jazz ~ Dg ~ Superb M-!!Johnny Griffin, A Blowing Session ~ '57 Blue Note 1559 47 W 63rd Ny 23 Rvg Dg LpJackie Mclean Mal Waldron ~ Mclean's Scene ~ Dg New Jazz ~ Beautiful M-!Introducing Kenny Burrell ~ Dg Lex. Blue Note ~ Gorgeous!Mal Waldron Trio - Impressions Us Lp Dg Prestige New JazzFreddie Redd ~ Shades Of Redd ~ Blue Note ~ Dg ~ Rare!Bennie Green ~ Back On The Scene ~ W. 63rd Blue Note No ® ~ Superb!John Coltrane - A Love Supreme Uk Lp Hmv A-1 / B-2 Nr MintLouis Smith ~ Smithville ~ Blue Note ~ Dg ~ Very Rare!Sonny Clark Cool Struttin Blue Note 1588 Ear Dg 1st No R Vg+Thelonious Monk - Piano Solo 10" Lp France Wing Nr MintKenny Burrell ~ Framed Warhol Cover Lex. Blue Note ~ Flat Edge!Duke Pearson ~ Tender Feelin's ~ Dg Blue Note ~ X-rare!Art Taylor ~ A.t.'s Delight ~ Dg Blue Note ~ Rare!Sahib Shihab - Jazz Sahib (bill Evans) Us Lp Dg SavoySonny Rollins Rollins Plays For Bird Nm Prestige 7095 W. 50th Dg Lp Rvg DorhamTommy Flanagan - John Coltrane - The Cats - New Jazz - Mono - Dg - Original !Hank Mobley Lee Morgan Peckin Time Blue Note Mono 1574 Van Gelder W.63rd St Lp Miles Davis Relaxin' With Prestige 7129 W. 50th Rvg Dg '57 Lp John Coltrane ExHerbie Hancock Maiden Voyage Blue Note Bst 84195 Ny Stereo Rvg Ear '65 LpLightnin' Hopkins – Lightnin' (the Blues Of) ~ 1960 Prestige/bluesville 1019-nmHerbie Hancock Takin Off Usa Blue Note Records Lp Blp 4109 Bnlp4109 Stamp InnerNm Lot X2 Roy Meriwether Nubian Lady Live Private Jazz Soul Funk Breaks StingerMiles Davis - Kind Of Blue Uk Lp FontanaJutta Hipp ~ Live At The Hickory House Framed Cover Lex. Blue Note ~ Flat Edge!George Wallington 5tet New York Scene New Jazz 8207 Us Original Purple Dg RvgJazz/blues Lp - Charles Sullivan - Genesis On Strata-east Records - Us Original!Roy R0man "the Youthful Mind" Great 1971 Latin Jazz Salsa Mono Vg++Moacir Santos Coisas Lp 1965 Original Stereo Jazz Forma Fe 1008 Brazil Hear Mp3Chet Baker - Mosaic 4 Lp Boxed Set - Mr4-113 - Near MintBobby Hamilton Dream Queen Lp Private Spiritual Jazz/funk 1972 Orig. Rare++++Ike Quebec - Bossa Nova Soul Samba Us Lp Blue Note Nr MintPharoah Sanders, Izipho Zam (my Gifts) ~ '73 Strata-east Nm Lp ~ Free JazzElysian Spring (despa 24134)1969 Orig Private Modal Jazz Psych Lp Glass FlowersHank Mobley Sextet - Us Lp Blue Note 1560 United Artists Nr MintSam Rivers - A New Conception Us Lp Blue Note LibertyMiles Davis ~ "kind Of Blue" (cbs) Uk 1959 - Original Mono Cbs U.k. Issue!Stan Tracey - Alice In Jazz Land Uk Lp Orig ColumbiaBill Evans Waltz For Debby Riverside Lp Deep Groove In Shrink!Duke Pearson Sweet Honey Bee Nm Blue Note Bst-84252 Ny Rvg Van Gelder '66 LpJohn Coltrane & Tadd Dameron Mating Call Us Prestige 7070 446 W 50th -56 M- OrigWayne Shorter Speak No Evil Blue Note 4194 Ny Mono Original Ear Rvg Vg+ Thelonious Monk - Genius Of Modern Music Vol 2 Us Lp Dg Rvg Blue NoteThelonious Monk + Sonny Rollins - Work Us Lp Prestige Dg RvgOrnette Coleman - Shape Of Jazz To Come Uk Lp A-1 / B-1 AtlanticJutta Hipp Quintet On Blue Note 5056 Us Original 10" Rare Lex D.g. Flat Mint-Art Taylor Quintet Taylor's Tenors On New Jazz 8219 Us Original Purple Dg RvgMiles Davis - Kind Of Blue Uk Lp Cbs Nr MintSonny Rollins Ray Bryant Worktime Prestige 7020 Nyc Mono Dg Rvg Vg++

Recent News: Jazz Vinyl Records

Source: Google News

Library donations to Mayfield jazz project questioned
WWL, May 5th

"Those dollars (from the library foundation) went into this facility," not salaries, he said recently as he played one of the Miles Davis jazz records the public library system is providing the Jazz Market and showed off the mostly empty area where he...Read more

Disc reviews: Ilona Domnich, John Patitucci, Hiatus Kaiyote, May 5th

Here's a jazz education story impossible to resist: Bassist John Patitucci's grandfather – who had heard records by Eubie Blake and Earl Hines during prohibition – encountered a treasure trove of '60s jazz records left for the garbage on the street...Read more

Ron Miles With the Atrium Jazz Ensemble at Orchestra Hall, May 8
Jazz Police (blog), May 5th

But his parents played jazz records and soon a Mingus concert and listening to Return to Forever's Stanley Clarke led him to switch to the bass. Anthony studied bass at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, then headed to New York, building a...Read more

Saturday Night Special: Good Vibes with Adam Kolker at Jazz Central, May 2
Jazz Police (blog), May 1st

Meditacions (Satchmo Jazz Records), co-led with Catalan drummer Xavi Maureta, received the award for "Best Modern Jazz CD" from the Catalan Jazz Society in 2002. Other CDs include Change of Time (OmniTone Records, 2002), Sultanic Verses ...Read more

Financier Robert Appel On His Love Of Ellington, Jobim And Dreams For Jazz At ...
Forbes, April 29th

He also collects old jazz records and listens to what he calls “old stuff” on YouTube. “I'm a Jobim, bossa nova freak, also Ellington and Big Band music of the '40's,” Appel said. Currently the chief of Appel Associates, a money management and...Read more

Surf Jazz is the new music wave
SurferToday, April 25th

As a result, Surf Jazz Records has signed with Billy Yeager, Bobby Rodriguez, and Vincent Mascola. Yeager, who has already written and recorded over 1400 musical compositions, is a passionate surfer and multi-instrumentalist. His latest work, "Shades...Read more

As national jazz sales dwindle, genre alive and well in Ithaca
The Ithaca Voice, April 19th

Rambach is the founder of Music Matters, Ltd., a label with exclusive rights from Universal Music to reissue the classic Blue Note jazz records. Rambach limits himself to a 3,500 copy limit for each album he re-presses but still sells roughly 1,000...Read more

Detroit-born drummer inspired by city's jazz legacy
Detroit Free Press, April 18th

He heard all the classic jazz records but also grew up with AM pop music, Motown, James Brown and the Beatles. He was serious about the trumpet but technical difficulties with the instrument and an increasing predilection for the drums led to a switch...Read more