I find it soothing to visit eBay on a regular basis to see what’s for sale and to muse about it.
Our topic for today is 78 rpm jazz records, which used to be the only kind until the early Fifties. I was somewhat overwhelmed the profusion of them on eBay — 1,183 items! Of course, some of them had no business being in that category — a Dutch hand organ record, Clyde McCoy picture discs, records by Dinah Shore, Xavier Cugat . . . but there were more than enough authentic jazz rarities to make my head spin. Here are some remarkable ones:
The combination of the Gennett label and Earl Hines is a potent one.
When was the last time you saw a Jack Purvis 78 for sale?
Squirrel Ashcraft and the boys, when they were very youthful.
Eddie sang on this one and apologized later . . . but it has Tesch, Sullivan, and Krupa, too.
I think this is a song from an otherwise forgotten musical production; if memory serves, the other side is YOU HAVE MONEY, DON’T YOU? — a song title that doesn’t make my heart leap with anticipation. I want to know what the record under this one is!
Early Barry Harris and Frank Foster in Detroit, on the NEW SONG label.
The other side of this Wardell Gray record is called THE TOUP, no kidding.
I believe, although perhaps incorrectly, that this record has an early Jess Stacy solo passage; at least he remembered playing with this band. (The leader would say, “Are you ready, Kittens?” And they would have to answer “Meow!” The life of a working musician.)
And finally . . . an eBay seller is offering a dozen Japanese Victor Fats Waller and his Rhythm records . . . for some exorbitant price. Who knew that Fats had such a reputation in Japan? Did that country enter the Second World War because they wanted Fats to play for them? It’s a theory no one, as far as I know, has yet explored.
The larger social significance of this list might be summarized quickly. 78s are unplayable artifacts for almost everyone in this iPod era and they look like valuable antiques that will fetch pleasing prices. But the economy has made many people look for things to sell that they would otherwise have held on to. Better that these records get sold on eBay to enthusiasts who can play them, so the music doesn’t vanish entirely. Who knows how many wonderful 78s get thrown out when collectors die? “Provide, provide,” as Robert Frost wrote.