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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The big hand-off: College program trains new generation of jazz musiciansCharleston Post Courier, March 8th
Trumpeter and big band leader Charlton Singleton has made two jazz records. Lewis has produced four recordings. Baxter, an accomplished recording engineer, has spent more time in the studio than most, operates a local studio and tours. "The younger ...Read more
06.03.2014 | 17:16 | von Samir H. Köck (Die Presse - Schaufenster)DiePresse.com, March 6th
Mögen die dazugehörigen Fernsehfilme, die Mord und Totschlag, Raub und Rache behandelten, längst vergessen sein, ihre Soundtracks sind von zeitloser Güte. Stuart Baker, Chef des Londoner Labels Soul Jazz Records, hat für das Album „Inner City Beat!...Read more
Today in Music History - March 3mysask.com, March 2nd
In 1931, singer and bandleader Cab Calloway recorded his theme song, "Minnie the Moocher," said to be one of the first million-selling jazz records. At the time, Calloway was a headliner at the Cotton Club in Harlem, where his "Hi-De-Ho" scat singing...Read more
Dontae Winslow Talks Music As a Family, Making Jazz Cool, Queen Latifah ...Singersroom News, February 27th
It's the synthesis of everything that comes before it. Working with Talented Artists: I think its word of mouth. I did a lot of records on my own; I did my first two rap records '97 '98, jazz records '99 and '00. I taught school kids for three years...Read more
"Birthday of Jazz" festival to open in "Akademija 28" in Belgrade on February 26InSerbia News, February 26th
It celebrates the day when the first jazz records were released. This festival of early Dixieland jazz, this year earned the epithet of international, because besides the local jazz scene for the first time in the region, exclusively, will perform a...Read more
Still 'Out To Lunch' 50 Years LaterWPRL, February 25th
1964 was a great year for cutting-edge jazz records like Albert Ayler's Spiritual Unity, John Coltrane's A Love Supreme and Andrew Hill's Point of Departure. But none sounds as far ahead of its time as Eric Dolphy's masterpiece Out to Lunch, recorded...Read more
A short story about Bob St. Clair, Andre Rodgers and Elvis recordsLas Vegas Review-Journal (blog), February 20th
One day, when Bob St. Clair was in town because the 49ers were playing the Eagles, he and a couple of teammates — John Henry Johnson and Charlie Powell — came into the Blue Note looking for jazz records. Herb said he can vividly recall St. Clair ...Read more
SOUND ADVICE: Ray Marchica's 'A Different View” one of the best jazz albums ...Kingston Daily Freeman, February 17th
From the sophisticated, yet timeless compositions to the world-class playing, this record is surely one of the best jazz records of the year. Do yourself a favor and seek it out. Visit http://raymarchica.com. David Malachowski is a guitarist, producer...Read more