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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Genre-bending bands perform in Istanbul this weekDaily Sabah, February 9th
He founded Stockholm Jazz Records in 2002, and released his debut album "Checking In" followed by his second album "Zoetic Session" through his own company. He has shared the stage with formidable figures of music including Justo Almario, Eldad ...Read more
Here's How Some Of The Greatest Drummers Of All Time Got Their StartUPROXX, February 9th
to make a name for himself as a percussionist throughout his 20s. But he didn't get on until he was recruited to join John Coltrane's quartet at the age of 33. All that time paid off as Jones ended up playing on some of the most famous jazz records...Read more
Grammys Tend to Focus on Heroics in Singling Out the Jazz SoloNew York Times, February 7th
A friend who edits a monthly jazz magazine tells me that nearly 5,000 new jazz records were sent in his direction last year. That's not all of the new jazz albums made around the world in 2015, but a decent percentage of them...Read more
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Billy Childs created 'Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro' featuring Becca Steven and Alicia Olatuja. Billy Childs created 'Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro' featuring Becca Steven and Alicia Olatuja. (DAVID KATZENSTEIN ...Read more
A Portlander's Guide To JazzVortex Music Magazine, February 4th
From jazz in pop culture to the essential PDX jazz records to where you can experience it live, here's a crash course in local jazz. by Chris Young. February 4, 2016 12:00pm. “A lot of jazz is bleeding into soul, hip-hop and pop scenes.” —Portland's...Read more
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Fast FactsCNN, February 3rd
1983 - Fire destroys his home in Bel-Air, Los Angeles, including his large collection of jazz records. April 5, 1984 - Surpasses Wilt Chamberlain as the NBA's all-time leading scorer. 1989 - Retires, at the end of the season, as the highest scoring...Read more
Jazz singer Luciana Souza finds new, bigger soundSacramento Bee, January 21st
Unlike most jazz records, which are recorded live in a day or two, these sessions stretched over three days with numerous takes and revisions. Klein then mixed the assorted takes in ways that jazz records aren't usually created. “It was very different...Read more
The Top 5 Jazz Records For Jazz RookiesConsequence of Sound (blog), January 19th
On this episode, Consequence of Sound Managing Editor Adam Kivel, and jazz musicians Lili K., David Ben-Porat, and Keefe Jackson reveal the five best jazz records for jazz rookies. Keep it real cool, hepcat, and dig the low down on these records...Read more