A Great Crate Digging Find: Original Blue Note 4003 LP, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

The most thrilling thing about being a collector, any collector really, is finding a very rare and valuable item for a fraction of its value. Here's one of those stories:

As I was browsing through the jazz section at my local record shop, I ran across this pictured copy of the self titled Blue Note LP Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, also known as Moanin'.

It's nicknamed this due to pianist Bobby Timmons, and his composition of the same name.

The price tag that was affixed to the plastic cover sleeve was $29.99. I thought, probably a Liberty Records pressing? So I took the vinyl out from the sleeve to inspect, I glanced at the label, it read 47 west 63rd NYC.

 I can see the deep groove in the labels, it's a mono copy. I inspect the Blue Note logo, no trademark R under the E in Blue Note, and the RVG and the Plastylite cursive P are in the dead wax run off area.

Blue Note 4003 Available Now.

Did I re-sell it? 

The vinyl condition is stupendous, not mint, but a strong VG+ with light marks and scuffs. The vinyl still has quite a bit of luster and the labels have very light spindle marks, This copy probably would easily bring $300-$500, maybe more.

The cover is not bad either, no splits, strong intact spine, but certainly no better than the very good (VG) grade, but over all a nice playable copy.


I eventually sold this to an overseas buyer for $400.00. In hindsight, I probably let it go a little too cheaply, as he nabbed it up within a few days of the listing being posted. Considering how well it played, I am sure he was more than happy with it.

Even with it being a mid level condition record, I bet the one who bought it from me will turn it around and make a nice little profit, if they haven't already.

So it goes...

Finding a $500 record for $30 is what it's all about

To find this record in this type of playing shape for 30 dollars is just incredible to me, every Blue Note collector strives to find an original first press copy of classics like this.

Trying to get the best possible sound, and as close to the original source as possible is the key.

 Hearing a record like this for a true Jazz nut, can be almost a religious experience, it was for me.

 It's not really the sound quality so much, but rather the feel of the vinyl and jacket card board, you just don't get that from a CD or download.

The music quality of original vinyl might be tad oversold, especially when I have a new 45 rpm double LP that to my ear sound just as good. But If I had the cash, I would very much dig deep into the original vinyl.

I couldn't help but wonder why this usually high priced shop would have $30 on this record?

My only guess is, they tend to specialize in rock music and new independent vinyl issues, and it just slipped through the cracks. Maybe next time I will run into an original Hank Mobley Soul Station LP. You never know what might be in those crates?
What are Blue Note 4003 and others selling for at the moment?

A copy of Moanin' back in November 2012 sold for $1,125 on eBay reportedly in Mint Minus condition, the cover was much cleaner too than my pictured find. My find is definitely not a top copy, but still a solid play copy.

My copy was not close to mint, but it was VG+ and played with very light surface noise and sounded so present and full of life.

 I have a collection of well over 300 Blue Notes, but only 30 are original first pressings, and this was by far the best condition vinyl of those.

Most are in the VG- to VG condition. You must remember you are dealing with prices that most can barely dream of, with originals fetching between $2,000 and $5,000 all the time on eBay. I've been fortunate to find an original first press of Horace Silver's Horace-Scope in VG condition, played very well, I paid a lousy dollar for that at a thrift store.

I also found a Freddie Redd Connection with Jackie McLean first press for 2 dollars at a yard sale, that record had a few deep marks and heavy scuffs, but also played surprisingly well. The point is, you can get lucky if you dig.

Benny Golson: The Star of 4003

"Along Came Betty", "Are You Real", & "Blues March" were tenor saxophonist Benny Golson's compositions, and he is the real star on this Jazz Messengers classic.
Benny Golson Saxophone

Golson was responsible for 4 of the 6 compositions, with "Are You Real" "Along Came Betty", and "Blues March", all becoming standards.

Benny also provides an extremely tasty tenor sax solo on the Bobby Timmons track Moanin'. Golson is one of the unsung heroes of jazz, even with his recent notoriety.

His body of work speaks for its self, the number of standards and his arranging skills have influenced countless jazz musicians.

Benny has composed televisions scores for shows like M*A*S*H and Mission Impossible, he also lead the Jazztet from 1959 to 1962, and then again in the 80's.

It would be hard to argue that Moanin' isn't the greatest Jazz Messengers album, perhaps A Night in Tunisia or Free For All come close? When you run down the list, there are a lot of great albums to choose from.

*Golson PHOTO CREDIT: By Brianmcmillen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons* 

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