Collecting Blue Note Jazz

I have decide to start building up a collection of Blue Note Jazz LPs, of which I have very few. What is the best way to go on what can be a sizeable investment. I am willing to spend for great music/sound quality, but cost is a factor, especially when originals are so expensive. I see many options, of which standouts include:
1. New Music Matters 45 RPM reissues.
2. Original Pressings ($$$)
3. Affordable but relatively early reissues (e.g. Blue Label, Liberty Pressings..maybe from the 70's or even early 1980s)
4. Just buy SACDs, since the LPs will not sound that great anyway.
The website touts hot stampers. As I understand it, this site recommends shunning recent reissues and buying perhaps five or more original LPs or reissues (e.g. Blue Label) and keep the best sounding of the lot, while selling the rest. I've noticed that none of the Blue Note LPs I have so far offer sound quality on par with my LPs by the Contemporary Records label. Any recommendations? I have a pretty decent system for both LP and digital. Any advice would be much appreciated - Mark
Hot stampers is noting more than P.T Barnum at best. People spending upwards of $500.00 for a $1.00 Lp that can be found and bought at most thrifts or Salvation Army. How anyone can be hood winked into believing, that out of the five Lps there is one that's worth a kings ransom. Please use common sense when buying. Try to haunt your local thrifts and even try craigs many people are selling Lps and you might get very lucky. So in the mean time, buy Sacds and reissued Lps on quality labels and check the forums here and Arthur Salvatore on "Audio Critic". But please don't give your money away to any of the record hucksters out there.Their are some here that will disagree with me and spend hundreds on an Lp with the thought they are getting a deal in best sound!well not me.
I'd have to disagree with your opinion that the LPs don't sound that good. I've been enjoying the Music Matters and Acoustic Sounds 45rpm Blue Note re-issues very much. The biggest reason for is they sound great to me. I can't believe this stuff was recorded in the late fifties and early sixties!

While I don't think $50.00 is cheap I do think they will be worth at least that if I ever sell them or when they are passed on to my Family.

For me sound quality is the most important criteria. Is it possible that the original pressings at 33rpm sound better than the 45rpm? I'll let everyone else chime in because I don't have any of the originals. At least I know that these are new. One of the drawbacks I've found is that you never know what a used record will sound like, you don't know how it's been handled for 48 years. I haven't been disappointed with any of the re-issues yet and I've got around 23 so far.
I have a few original Blue Note LPs that sound very good. In fact, once the TT/cart was dialed in, LPs cleaned with Disc Doctor and steamed (that's a whole other thread) ... I was surprised at the high production quality. These were albums that hadn't been played in years - giving way to CDs and then SACDs. My opinion of Rudy Van Gelder's work had been tainted by what I was hearing on CD. I thought maybe my recollection may have been a little "cloudy" from the old days of Blue Note on vinyl. But when I put on Horace Silver's "Song For My Father" and Lee Morgan's "Rumproller" I was fairly blown away.

In comparison, the 45 RPM MM reissues - while an improvement over some of the brand new stuff - there wasn't IMHO enough of an improvement to justify the $50 price tag. Picked some up just to see what all the buzz was about. I concluded that perhaps my TT system wasn't resolving to the point of extracting that last bit of improvement.

BTW, the remastered RVG CD collection - is an improvement over his earlier CD engineering. I could hear a positive difference in the RVG version of Wayne Shorter's "Speak No Evil" compared to a CD I picked up about 15 years ago. Perhaps a more technical person can chime in here, but I think it has something to do with a much higher sampling rate. Having said all that, still if you can find some of the original LPs in good shape ... pick 'em up.

Finally, based on my personal experience, the folks that put out the 'hot stampers' aren't all bad. I picked up a nearly mint 'promotional' pressing of Miles' "Some Day My Prince Will Come" from that outfit (Columbia not Blue Note OK). It sounds fantastic, and I never get tired of it no matter how many times it's been played.
It really should depend on what your goal is. If you are building a collection of rare original records it might be worth your money to go after originals. If, on the other hand, you are buying records to listen to in a hi-fi scenario by all means buy the reissues. If you're trying to buy originals with any kind of hi-fi motive in mind you'll be disapointed. Most of what you'll find will be well worn and noisy. And if its in good shape it will be prohibitively expensive. Plus, a seller's M- on E-bay may very well arrive looking like it was cleaned with a garden rake. Most of the reissues, both 33 and 45 are really excellent and you won't be disapointed.

In fact I'm listening to a 33 of Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers right now. Sounds great.
Well, buying up hot stampers at $500 each was really never a financial option for me. But I visit local record stores, and buying up a few to keep the best and trade the rest is an option. Outside of Blue Notes, I bought a few copies of LPs by Joan Armatrading and Dionne Warwick and ended up finding some with distinctly better sound (some are WLPs). This effort did not cost much. I was intrigued by the example of Songs For My Father, as my two copies sound just OK (one blue label, one Liberty)...not bad, but I want to be impressed, as you seem to be with. Do you have any identifier in the deadwax on your version to identify it? Since some LPs sound fantastic on my system, I think maybe I just don't have a hot stamper, and you do. Otherwise, it could just be personal preference. I find the Blue Notes to be bright and less natural sounding than many Contemporary LPs. In comparison with the Columbia LPs, it seems the Blue Notes are quite a bit more expensive in general, and buying a few copies, again, seems worthwhile for favorite titles. On the reissues, I haven't tried Blue Notes yet, but I note that Aretha Franklin's original LPs on Atlantic sound (often blue/green label) much better than the reissues I have. However, I also have some good sounding reissues of other titles.
I am familiar with Arthur Salvatore's site, a great suggestion for LPs with top notch sound quality, and equipment recommendations as well. He has a ton of recommendations, but leans heavily towards classical, with just a handful of mostly offbeat Jazz titles, and no Blue Notes.
I have many original Blue Notes as well as Contemporary, Prestige and other Lables too. I have tons of reissues also. Many from the 70's and on the OJC label and other labels. I bought reissues from places like soundstage and a few on Ebay too. I have spent on average of about $12.00 ea. for sealed Jazz reissues from various labels. I also search Thrift Shops and Flea Markets and I choose only LP's that look to be in excellent condition. Average cost of them are between $0.49 and $3.00. I have compared many of the originals to some of the new reissues like Dave Bailey's 2 Feet in the Gutter. I got this for $7.99 on Soundstagedirect and the recording was fabulous. It was as quiet as the remastered CD I purchased but with more air and very good bass response too. I ended up buying all 3 Dave Bailey LP's. I have bought several highly rated reissues on Bluenote like Johnny Griffin Blowing from Chicago and while it was excellent at $40.00 the reissue was equally as good at $10.00. I often thought the bass on alot of LP's were a bit light lightweight on some LP's. But all have been very lifelike in it's sound. I have a couple Analog Production Blues LP's and they are simply wonderful. Maybe I'm just making good choices and the origial recordings were all excellent from the beginning.

I have heard in these pages and others to stay away from Scorpio Productions vinyl reissues but you will seldom know which recordings are Scorpio. From what I read they are mostly 180gm and are rumored to come from digital sources rather than original analogue tapes.

I can personally say that when I read a review of a jazz LP I buy the reissue first. If I like it enough I will go to the local audio store or a friends home to A-B it against premium vinyl reissues. Usually, there isn't much difference if at all to justify the huge difference in cost IMO. I won't say this is true for all out there but just for the one's I have purchased.

I can't justify spending $50 for a record when I can get it for pretty close for $10 or a 180 gm for under $15.00 in most cases. Soundstagedirect and wdcdradio are not the only places that sell quality reissues on the internet. I average about 4 LP's each order and I have yet to be disappointed with sound quality. MOST OF MY ORDERS ARE FOR BLUENOTES THAT I CAN'T FIND LOCALLY OR RECCOMENDED BY THE AUDIO PRESS. Also, many of the non 180gm records I have purchased are thick and do not flop like many of the 80's LP's and reissues. I say buy from a quality source and enjoy the music. One last thing no matter where you live Estate Sales are one of the best places to purchase vinyl and CD's. Check your local paper.
I also collect classical, rock, blues, R&B, jazz and folk and more.
There's allot of music out there. Recently I scored on some pretty good jazz on Audiogon. Check out labels like ECM, CTI, Pablo, Atlantic, Muse, Steeplechase, OJC, Discovery and others. They all have a great jazz catalog and the sound quality could be better than some of the premium labels mentioned above.
IMO, if you want quality, the MM releases are just out of this world perfect in every way -- quiet & well pressed vinyl with sonics to drool over (their covers are the best I've seen, BTW). I'm extremely pleased I signed up for these releases and continually look forward to the next delivery -- if you can spring the $$ & enjoy jazz; it's a no-brainer. Highly recommended.
Blue Note has a new series out that includes an LP mastered by Ron McMaster, as well as the commonly available VanGelder mastered CD included in the jacket. While these are not as fine as the 45RPM sets, they are less than half the price, sound great, and you don't have to get up and flip over the record twice per side. A really good alternative.

Avoid the Scorpio reissues, they are, for the most part, terrible, and sourced from digital media.
Your interpretation of the Blue Notes as bright and less natural than Contemporary (Label I presume?)is interesting. There's a big difference between BNs on vinyl and on CD. They are bright on CD. In fact I once panned Rudy Van Gelder based on the quality of the cds. RVG BN's are not perfect by any means. Pianos typically sound terrible. But on good pressings the horns and drums usually sound wonderful. Then there's a whole other debate about whether stereo or mono recordings are better (I prefer mono).

Contemporary made some great recordings too. They were also an early adopter of Stereo and some of these are excellent. Their pianos sound pretty good for the day. See if you can find Shelly Manne and his Men Play Peter Gunn (Contemporary Stereo (S)7025). Columbias in general are very inexpensive. Columbia was the biggest label around. They'd let smaller labels develop talent, then they'd come in, offer big money and take the best artists. Miles Davis from Prestige, Monk from Riverside, Brubeck from Fantasy, Ray Charles from Atlantic. As a consequence they printed a ton of records so they're cheap. On BLue Note, by comparison, there are some records that only got about 500 original pressings.

My Horace Silver record is a modern reissue. I think its a 200G reissue that I got from Acoustic Sounds.

Your 'Songs for My Father' are both reissues. The original - I believe - would have been blue and white with "New York, New York" on the label and most like the RVG stamp in the dead wax.

Chronologically the labels on 33 RPM vinyl would go (roughly) Lexington Ave (mid-late 50s); West 63rd St (Late 50's to early 60s); New York, New York (Early to mid 60's); Division of Liberty (Late 60s) and then sometime later they went to United Artists and the blue labels but I'm not sure when.

They way I look at it is this: If I'm contemplating buying an original and it costs more that about $25, I'll check and see if a high quality new reissue is available. If it is I'll go with the reissue every time.
I've subscribed to both the Analogue Productions and Music Matters BN reissues series and I have loved every one them. They're pricey, but they're classics and they're a super high quality product. I don't know how many I'll ultimately buy, and I'm sure there are cheaper alternatives, but the 45rpm vinyl reissues are fantastic.
Well, the new music matters appear to have enough support here to be well worth checking out a few. I guess I'll end up trying multiple approaches, including some originals and some of the new 45 rpm reissues. On the mono vs. stereo issue, do mono versions still have an advantage when using a stereo cartridge? I know a mono cartridge should be more there any additional advantage in sound quality? I have a VPI Scout and Shelter 501. Shelter also makes a 501 mono. So, I could buy an extra wand and a mono cartridge (when I have some extra $$$). On ebay, I'm finding that originals in VG+ condition go for $50+. In fact, my local record stores typically just post such items on ebay rather than offering for sale to walk in customers. These responses are very helpful. Keep the suggestions coming. Thanks!
Any body know if Blue Note ever issued anything on reel to reel tape?
Imho, original, mono, pre-Liberty 12" Blue Notes are the greatest of all the record labels. If you like the music and can afford them, with the exception of some that are overpriced due to rarity, they are worth every cent.
I too have complained about the piano in RVG vinyl recordings. By way of serendipity, I installed a Denon 103r and my complaint is gone. I know my old cartridge was worn. But, and just in my situation, I have found much more detail and high end in a new cartridge. Perhaps it is just a better match for my situation. But, I suppose I'm saying I found the dull piano to be coming from something other than the record. And I imagine there are recordings where the piano is just recorded dull. But, if the piano always sounds dull (and perhaps the high hat cymbol sounds dull), you may want to investigate elsewhere.

I think I used 100 words when 10 would do :-)

I was very lucky to live near the Record Exchange in Princeton, NJ, in the 80's (and still). Those were the days when you could get original pressings or early re-issues for a reasonable amount of money, and the store was more vinyl than CD. Many people turned in those "ancient, less than perfect sounding" LP's(their loss, my gain!)for the new format. My Lp collection is close to a thousand albums (and around 500 CD's). I have a few original Blue Notes and some early re-issues, among them:
1. Stanley Jordan's "Magic Touch"
2. Art Blakey &The Jazz Messengers "Moanin"
3. Jimmy Smith "Softly As A Summer Breeze"
4. Stanley Turrentine "Up At Minton's"
5. John Coltrane's "Blue Train"
6. Tony Willams "Life Time"
7. Milt Jackson with Thelonius Monk Quintet
plus many wonderful Verve's, Riversides, Pablos, Contemporary,Coumbia 6 eyes, Capitol, Atlantic, MoFi's, and one of my favorites....a 4S stamper of RCA LSP-2438 Paul Desmond "Desmond Blue". I realize that these would cost a goodly amount today, but IMHO, nothing replaces their sound.--Mrmitch
I've been buying a lot of Blue Note re-issues from The quality seems fine, and the LP's sell for $7 - $12. Loads of Lee Morgan, Hank Mobley, Grant Green, Ike Quebec, Lou Donaldson, etc., etc. I don't know how these LP's compare to the $50 re-issues, but I do know that they sound really good. Personally, I'd much rather be able to buy 12 albums for under $100, than buy only two for the same price. Just my two cents.
Happy New Year, and Happy Listening !!!
I'd beware of "VG+" on E-bay. You will be disappointed. There are a lot of sellers misgrading records out there. Not all but its very hit and miss. "VG+" seems to be the catch-all grade for some real crap vinyl.
I've bought a few hundred LPs from ebay, mostly rated VG+. If not satisfied, I just ask for a refund. However, this is very inconvenient, and happens too frequently. Also, if someone accepts the return, I don't give them bad feedback, since I'm grateful to get my money back (ex shipping). There does not seem to be anyway around this issue. Not enough inventory on ebay is rated NM and I've even had problems with LPs rated NM. On the other hand, I've had many good buying experiences on ebay as well. I live in the Boston area, which has many great used vinyl shops. However, the employees tell me that most of the best LPs go straight to walk in customer typical don't pay more than $30 per LP. This issue is relevant for this thread, because I guess many of the best original blue notes are probably sold on ebay.
My experience with vg+ vinyl is very similar to Grimace's report. Like a b+ insurance company rating, it often means its a "D" or an "F".

Having said that, I've found a lot of really nice NM and NM- records on eBay in the range of $5.00 to $15.00 or so. If you are in SoCal, I also recommend Atomic Records. They are on the web too, but save their more expensive stuff for eBay.
Don't count on being able to find a good copy by only buying 5 versions of an album. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don't. I buy multiple copies of my favorite albums, clean them and try to find the best sounding copy. This can get expensive and time consuming.

I also like the P.T. Barnum approach of the Hot Stampers. I have about a dozen and purchased another this week. The sound is simply amazing on some of these. I easily have over 1000 albums but only listen to about 100 of them on a regular basis. I didn't spend the time and money to put a system together to listen to OK albums, I want to hear the best.
I only aspire to own 500-600 albums in total, all of which I listen to enough to know pretty well, but not too well. I want to focus on getting the best sounding LP, with great music. If they don't sound great, might as well get a much more convenient digital version. Beyond this number, I think LPs get unwieldly to organize, store, and maintain quality control (for sound quality and condition). With Blue Notes, it might theoretically be easier to find a "hot stamper", since fewer LPs pressed in the first place and maybe superior quality control. Anyway, I'm just getting started with this BN collection. I'll experience a bit with all of the approaches and report back my findings. Even if I pick up a few sonic duds along the way, the music on this label seems maintain a very high level of quality.
all records, especially vintage ones, have been affected by their enviroment, and time itself. the best way to start..certainly the most cost effective.. would be the new re-issues(as expensive as they are, mint originals with mint covers can run hundreds of dollars each). as far as 'hot stampers', i think that ia juat a record thats an 'opened survivor'...nothing more. you might want to focus on jazz in general or else you'll miss some wonderful and creative music..bill evans, miles davis, charles lloyd, dave bruebeck, and tons of great verve, atlantic and columbia stuff....good luck.
well...If you are buying for value originals or second pressings of valuable titles are still the way to go as we do not know in the long run which reissues will increase in value.

As for sonics, old blue note 1500 series stand up pretty well to wear and tear and are cut hot especially in the midrange. This is a sound that new reissues do not have. You may like this or you may not.

Just to own the music is a wonderful thing. Almost any copy will be rewarding. If you have the funds some of the more expensive reissues can be good. In spite of the complaints about classic label stuff, they do put out a lot of records that sound decent and are very expensive in original state.
The MM stuff has already ben discussed here.

In general remember, that much of the really clean original blue note stuff went to japan and has been traded heavily since the 60's. NM copies rarely see the light of day unless they were under someone's bed.

For my money the best value in blue notes are early king pressings. At times I have found them to be very close to originals.
Thats a good point. There are some really good Japanese pressings out there. The vinyl itself tends to be deathly quiet.
Well, I just received and played my first two reissues, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messenger and Tina Brooks / True Blue. Well, so far, these are the best sounding two sounding of my modest blue note collection...also quiet, and the LP covers are great, especially Tina Brooks. I'll experiment a little more with some earlier pressings, but so far looks like these reissues are a sensible way to go. Too bad, some great titles Andrew Hill/Point of Departure, Herbie Nichols, and Jutta Hipp don't seem to be available in these recent reissue series...oops...I have to stop writing and change sides on the record player...
Mono albums sound better with a mono cartridge,IMHO. IF you have enough mono it is well worth the cost and work involved.
Mono albums that sound bad with a stereo cartridge can and will sound great with a mono cartridge.
I know that the Beatles are mot jazz but I purchased the White Album origial UK release for $90.00 vg condition, a near mint version of this would be in the $500.00 range. With my stereo cartridge it sounded like Sh.. and it was not even a vg record. With my mono cartridge it played VG++.
I have some original BN and reissues pressings. I will be getting all 25 AP & MM reissues. If I were you and they are stereo I would try the reissues first then originals if you like the recording, it will cost more than any reissue, If mono I would try affordable originals first then reissues if you want the stereo version. Origial mono albums even if scratch on the surface will not effect play with a mono cartridge, for the most part only groove error will effect play with a mono cartridge.
As always, note that those who dismiss hot stampers are those same individuals who have never heard one. You can always argue that they are overpriced but not if you haven't tried one. I like those rationalizations; it helps keep the hot stamper prices down.
"Keeping the hot stamper prices down". Isn't that a bit of an oxymoronic statement?

Seems I missed this thread completely as I was away for a few days around New Years (ironically, listening to Donald Harrison, who used to play with Art Blakey, at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago).

My advice with respect to Blue Notes would be to adopt a "two pronged" strategy that would involve purchasing re-issues such as the Kings and Music Matters with titles that fetch outrageous prices with respect to originals (when I say originals I'm talking Lexington, West 63rd or New York, New York addresses) and then either seeking out originals (if you have the stomach and $$ for it) or Liberty or solid blue label Blue Note re-issues of more obscure titles that might be of interest.

Originals can be very pricey, and that is if you happen on to one that is in good shape. Factor in that you might have to buy 3 or 4 or more copies to get a great one and you are looking at a lot of money. A King for $25-$50 or a Music Matters for $50-$60 can look pretty cheap.

The Kings IMO sound very close to originals as someone else has posted above. The Music Matters series also sound very good, but they definitely sound different than the Kings or originals. I find that the MM series sounds particularly good with respect to high frequencies (more natural and realistic than original Blue Notes which do, by the way, sound a bit more aggressive and less natural-maybe "relaxed" is a better word-than their Contemporary competitors from the same era, at least on my system) and they are smoother, definitely more "relaxed". The Kings, originals and even Liberty/solid blue label re-issues in many cases (at least with my ears and my system) do certain things very well compared to the Music Matters; among them are front to back "depth" in terms of imaging, separation and deliniation of instruments and a subjective "drive" or PRAT thing with the music. When it gets right down to it, I can live happily and enjoy either product; ultimately, for me, it becomes a value for $$ decision.

But I wouldn't sell the Liberty's or solid blue label Blue Note re-issues short. For $10-$20 in mint condition they represent excellent value and probably get you 80-90% there compared to the original, King or MM.
after over 40 years in the biz,and 50 years as a collector, i've never bumped into a hot stamper. i have however bought 2 identical records which 'over time' did sound different(one better than the other). 'time' doesn't treat all records equally.
Haven't you been able to find some LPs with extraordinary fidelity? I only have about 700 LPs or so, and I certainly have some with fantastic, standout sound quality. If this is the case with you, why not allow for the possibility that your great sounding records could be hot stampers? Specifically, I tried getting multiple copies of Dionne Warwick Scepter LPs and Joan Armatrading and found some with better sound quality (irrespective of ticks and pops). Sticking with the topic of Blue Notes, I have been collecting more. As many posters have suggested, even some of the blue label reissues sound some cases, I guess 80-90% of they way towards MM reissues, for a lot less $$$. I do have a moderately priced hot stamper on the way, my first, Dexter Gordon...One Flight Up. I'll let you know what I think. Anyway, I'm trying multiple approaches, and enjoying the music while I experiment.
Speaking for myself there is nothing better in this hobby then owning an original first release of your favorite music on any label.

For me ,that's the icing on the cake.
Especially when it's over 50 years old and the vinyl including the sleeve are in better looking shape then you are.

Mcmprov Dexter Gordons One Flight Up is a fairly good album and yes these so called "hot stamper" Lps certainly do exist.
I was made aware of them in the late 1970s and been experiencing them all I can ever since.

The few 1950s original Blue Note first release, no R on the label, that I have are of my favorite musicians and their music.
For me they are treasures to own.

The King releases are good value if not the best around and I think Music Matters and Analogue Productions are doing a great job with their 45 rpm Blue Note re-issues.

great sounding records that are older are 'survivors'

Short answer is yes, Blue Note reels were issued, but not while it was just Blue Note as in before 1966.
Sidewinder album by Lee Morgan issued by Liberty Blue Note. This auction truly is a rare gem.

Try this site.
Side note...I'm a big fan of the Pablo label for jazz lps
...Basie jam #1*****
Anybody own a current reissue of Moanin? value pressing?
Phasecorrect, I agree, Pablo LPs are qualitatively excellent, only surpassed among jazz labels by ECM, on average. However, Pablo came late to the game of recording some of the great Blue Note artists. Most of them were past their prime, when they cut their Pablo LPs. Nevertheless, the Pablo LPs are desirable for sonics alone and for the fact that Pablo put musicians together on one LP who rarely if ever before worked with each other, e.g., the Basie Jam LP.

Glad to say I own an original Blue Note pressing of "Moanin'".