THE JAZZ LP BOOK was the most difficult as I knew little about the real rarities in the field and what they commanded on the open market. It was my third project for Krause. They had already published one guide for jazz records, but it had been the usual mishmash: a list of records with values assigned that made no sense.
In fact, it was even more confusing than the previous jazz guide published by O’Sullivan Woodside in 1984, and no one thought it could get much worse than that!
Titled Goldmine’s Price Guide To Collectible Jazz Albums 1949-1969, but is usually shortened to the “Umphred Jazz Guide/Book.” It covers those jazz and jazz-related records manufactured in the United States from 1949 through 1969.
I had a difficult time getting any of the top buyers o sellers of rare jazz albums to talk with me—no one wanted to let the cat out of the bag as to the actual value of those records. Consequently, I had to use the information that was available to me, most of it laughably inadequate. So the first edition went out with $400 records valued at $75-100 and thousand dollar records valued at $150-200!
Almost as bad, I had assigned excessively high values to pre-Hard Bop albums, the market for which was softening as many of the avid collectors were getting on in years. Fortunately, the book was the best discography yet listed, so I got some positive feedback for that. When it came time to do the second edition, I had two dilemmas:
1. I knew the values for the really rare and desirable records were waaay too low, but I didn’t know how low.
2. I still hadn’t found anyone with the necessary knowledge about these rare records who was willing to divulge any of it.
This is the cover for the second edition. It is tasteful and kinda nice but I doubt one in a thousand jazz musicians who made the records in the book ever lived anywhere with a brick wall surrounding a fireplace. A better photo for the book might have been the living room of a third-floor, cold-water flat in Harlem with a sax carefully set in its stand and a cheap syringe and a spoon lying on a coffee table.
The second edition was much better
The second edition corrected hundreds of minor errors and added thousands of records. As to those persnickety values, for the most part, I was able to identify hundreds of rare records. For most of these, I doubled the assigned values from those in the first edition.
So the second edition went out with $400 records valued at $150-200 and thousand dollar records valued at $300-400. While this still made the book a joke to those in the know, it did have an immediate and adverse effect on the hobby: Dealers who had been used to buying those BIG records for a few bucks now found themselves facing sellers with “the Umphred book” wanting a hundred dollars for a $400 record instead of the $10 they had been taking for all those years before my book.
This ticked off one of the world’s biggest wheelers and dealers enough that he changed my name to Nealfuckingumphred. I was actually proud of myself for earning that …
The series of articles about the books I have published have a loose chronology and narrative that makes the most sense if read in this order:
1. Rock & Roll Record Albums Price Guide (1985)
2. Elvis Presley Record Price Guide (1985)
5. Goldmine’s Price Guide to Collectible Jazz Albums (1992)
8. Blues And Rhythm & Blues 45s Of The ’50s (2000)