This article will introduce you to some rare jazz records that sold for high prices.
In the vinyl records market, scarcity is a strong predictor of value. Most of the records on this list are rare due to being short-run or limited edition pressings. Others may have unusual or distinctive features in their album cover design, or historical significance making them highly unique.
The albums mentioned here are by no means amongst the best jazz albums to own on vinyl – rather, they should be considered as special interest collectors items. As you will see, many of these records are not especially famous or renowned jazz works to the average layperson.
The values mentioned in this article are based upon the highest auction prices achieved per record as reported by London Jazz Collector.
Here are ten examples of rare jazz records that sold for big bucks.
10. Indeed! – Lee Morgan (1957)
Indeed! is Jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan’s debut and released on the Blue Note label in 1957. It was recorded the previous winter and includes performances by the likes of Clarence Sharpe, Horace Silver, Wilbur Ware and Philly Joe Jones.
The record has a tracklist consisting of six songs running for a total of 38 minutes. There are two songs over eight minutes long such as ‘Roccus,’ and ‘Little T.’ It is an outstanding jazz album featuring an 18 year old trumpet playing prodigy.
One rare copy of the album reportedly sold for $2,927 at auction.
9. Star Bright – Dizzy Reece (1960)
Star Bright by Jamaican-born jazz trumpeter Dizzy Reece consists of performances recorded in 1959 following his move to New York City. The album was released on the Blue Note label.
Other jazz artists on the recording include Hank Mobley on tenor saxophone, Wynton Kelly playing piano, Paul Chambers on bass and drummer Art Taylor.
The record runs for 39 minutes and features six tracks in total. Two of the stand out songs are ‘I’ll Close My Eyes’ and ‘I Wished on the Moon.’ One copy of the critically-acclaimed album fetched $2,948 at auction.
8. Volume 3 – Lee Morgan (1957)
Lee Morgan Vol. 3 is the third record by jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan which was recorded and released in 1957. It features the workings of Gigi Gryce, Pianist Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers on bass and drummer Charlie Persip.
It has a 38 minute tracklist of just five songs with all compositions by American saxophonist Benny Golson. Songs include ‘Domingo,’ ‘I Remember Clifford’ and ‘Tip-Toeing.
A copy of the rare jazz record sold at auction for $3,000.
7. Sonny’s Crib – Sonny Clark (1958)
Jazz pianist Sonny Clark released his album Sonny’s Crib in 1958 on the Blue Note label. Contributors include trumpeter Donald Byrd, trombonist Curtis Fuller and sensational tenor saxophonist John Coltrane
The recording is 44 minutes in length and contains five songs. The second half features two originals from Clark including ‘Sonny’s Crib’ and ‘News For Lulu.’
The work has been noted as “a phenomenal recording, one that opened the door to hard bop becoming the norm in the late ’50s, and one that drew deft, imaginative performances from all its players.”
At auction, a copy of Sonny’s Crib sold for $3,050.
6. Dexter Blows Hot And Cool – Dexter Gordon – (1955)
1955’s Dexter Blows Hot and Cool by jazz musician Dexter Gordon also includes Jimmy Robinson on trumpet, pianist Carl Perkins along with Leroy Vinnegar on bass and drummer Chuck Thompson.
Consisting of nine tracks with four compositions by Gordon and five songs by a range of other artists. Gordon’s own works include ‘Silver Plated,’ ‘Rhythm Mad,’ ‘Bonna Rue’ and ‘Blowin’ For Dootsie.’
Billboard Reviewer credited Gordon with “a quiet authority in his forthright, simply tailored style”.
When made available at auction a copy of the record sold for $3,059.
5. True Blue – Tina Brooks (1960)
Tenor saxophonist Tina Brooks released True Blue in 1960. It is notable for being Brooks’ only performance as a leader during his lifetime. The record highlights the talents of Freddie Hubbard on Trumpet, pianist Duke Jordan, bassist Sam Jones and Art Taylor on drums.
True Blue has five original Brooks compositions with the final track ‘Nothing Ever Changes My Love for You’ by Jack Segal and Marvin Fisher.
“The hard bop solos are consistently excellent” Reviewer Scott Yanow writes on Allmusic, with the 37 minute record rated at four-and-a-half stars. A copy of this rare jazz record fetched $3,250 at auction.
4. Jutta Hipp – With Zoot Sims (1957)
German jazz pianist Jutta Hipp released With Zoot Sims in 1957. Fellow collaborators include Zoot Sims on tenor saxophone, Jerry Lloyd’s trumpet, bass player Ahmed Abdul-Malik and Ed Thigpen on drums.
Its tracklist is six songs long and runs for 54 minutes with lead track ‘Just Blues’.’ featuring Zoot Sims. A copy sold at auction for $3,650.
Born in Germany, the enigmatic Jutta Hipp has always been a highly regarded jazz pianist. However, she dropped out of the jazz scene soon after the release of this record, apparently choosing to work as a seamstress.
3. Cool Struttin’ – Sonny Clark (1958)
Cool Struttin’ was released in 1958 by jazz pianist Sonny Clark featuring alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, trumpet player Art Farmer and two members of the Miles Davis Quintet – bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones.
The record is 37 minutes long and has only four tracks with an average of nine minutes each including ‘Sippin’ At Bells’ which is composed by Miles Davis.
The record is a lesser-known cult classic amongst jazz aficionados, and one rare copy of the record reportedly sold at auction for $3,750.
2. Jackie McLean – The New Tradition (1956)
Presenting… Jackie McLean, also referred to as The New Tradition and Jackie McLean Quintet, is the debut album by American alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, which was recorded in 1955, becoming the first LP released by the Ad Lib label.
The record lasts for 40 minutes and includes six songs including two McClean original compositions – ‘Blue Doll’ and ‘Little Melonae.’ A copy of The New Tradition sold at auction for $4,036.
The album has been noted as a “far from essential” record in McLean’s back catalogue. However, the relative obscurity of the record has made it of special interest to some collectors.
1. Hank Mobley – Hank Mobley (1958)
Jazz tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley released his self-titled record on the Blue Note label. The 1958 classic recording features Mobley himself along with trumpeter Bill Hardman, alto saxophonist Curtis Porter, piano player Sonny Clark, Paul Chambers on bass and drummer Art Taylor.
At a relatively short 34 minutes in length, the record has a tracklist of five songs with Mobley’s own composition ‘Double Exposure’ fourth on the running order. The record sold poorly after its first pressing, and is not especially highly-rated.
Hank Mobley is a record considered perhaps the most difficult to find and thus one of the most collectable albums in its original pressing form.
The “Mobley 1568” Blue Note pressing is well known as a rare jazz record, often selling for over $3,000. One copy reportedly sold for $5,101.
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