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.
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Paul Weller 'Classic Album Selection: Vol. 1' Digital Box SetBroadway World, August 26th
Paul re-established his Soul and R&B roots and influences with the new material, as well as his love of Curtis Mayfield, Steve Winwood, Funkadelic, Blue Note jazz records, and new groups such as Gang Starr and A Tribe Called Quest. It includes the hit ...Read more
New jazz and blues nightclub to open its doors in Luton's Mill Yard next monthLuton On Sunday, August 23rd
Paul is best known for founding 33 Jazz Records, based in Luton, which has released over 250 jazz and world music albums since it was founded back in 1990. Paul and friends hosted the test night for the venue back in February and are now back on the ...Read more
Gin, Glorious Gin: How Mother's Ruin Became the Spirit of London by Olivia ...Telegraph.co.uk, August 22nd
But the real fun of this book is in the pacy, gleeful anecdotes and quotes. When he was The Daily Telegraph's jazz critic, Philip Larkin declared that “listening to new jazz records for an hour with a pint of gin and tonic is the best remedy for a day...Read more
Book Review: 'Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage' by Haruki ...Wall Street Journal, August 21st
His writing, built on recurring motifs—dual realms, jazz records, questing males—and themes—solitude, guilt, the unbearable gulf between perception and reality—is both simple and entirely original. Mr. Murakami's oeuvre can be broadly divided into...Read more
Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Lovely by James Booth, book review: Jazz and ...The Independent, August 14th
Then jazz records to my taste, especially Armstrong…" Larkin considered Louis Armstrong one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. He writes passionately in his praise and was asked by Faber to write a biography. One of Larkin's finest poems is...Read more
Montreal singer-songwriter, Stephen Farrell to perform debut concert at ...Canada NewsWire (press release), August 12th
MONTRÉAL, Aug. 12, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - As a guitarist, singer-songwriter, pianist and musical director, musical Renaissance man, Stephen Farrell will perform his debut concert entitled, Toi et Moi - You and I at Montreal's Monument-National, Studio ...Read more
Kirill Gerstein: the classical pianist with jazz in his bloodTelegraph.co.uk, August 5th
Jazz and classical music: two very different worlds, divided by a chasm. Only a few have crossed it, and even fewer have been able to keep a foot on each side: André Previn, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Wynton Marsalis. Now, alongside these stellar...Read more
Choice Cuts: Dennis Gonzalez' 10 Favorite Jazz RecordsDallas Observer (blog), July 30th
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