Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I LOVE JAZZ . . . so tell me more about Louis Armstrong's dental history?
The New York Times ran an article on the jazz auction held on February 20, where wealthy jazz fans were given the opportunity to buy the original sheet music to Thelonious Monk's "Straight No Chaser" (titled "Can't Call It That" to remove the alcohol reference), Charlie Parker's King alto saxophone and the sheet music to John Coltrane's "Love Supreme," with detailed notes in Coltrane's hand, among other things. Now these mentioned items make sense for a jazz auction.
What I find baffling is that someone shelled out $1,600 for a telegram from Louis Armstrong to his booking agent, Joe Glaser about dental problems and a lack of cash? Is this really worth owning? An astonishing $60,000 was paid out for one of Thelonious Monk's high school notebooks, where the 15 year-old Monk wrote a book report on A Tale of Two Cities. Granted, it was bought by someone who attended Monk's high school, but that's a hell of a lot of coin to throw around on someone's high school notebook. I'm not sure what the person hopes to gain from having it, but I hope it's worth it.
Sadly, the article mentions that some items didn't sell, like one of Wes Montgomery's guitars. However, it claims that the guitar was priced at $300,000, which is a little steep, considering the most expensive item at the auction was Parker's saxophone, which went for $245,000.
The article discusses the fact that some jazz scholars were concerned that these jazz artifacts could be bought up by private collectors, and would not be accessible to those wishing to study them. However, I assume that if someone with a scholarly background in jazz approached one of the buyers (who may, themselves, be able to study and learn from their purchases), they'd be allowed access to these items.
The article doesn't mention that any Miles Davis items were put up for the auction. Maybe most of his stuff has been sold off over the years (trumpet, sheet music, doctor's notes, power bills, restaurant receipts, etc). Seems that an ardent jazz collector wanting more than just the music also needs a high paying job to get their hands on a piece of jazz history (regardless of whether it seems significant or not).
posted by Jonathan


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