Record Label That Signed Jazz Greats Goes on Sale

Article excerpt

THE MASTER tapes of recordings by John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Nina Simone would take centre stage in any jazz buff's collection.

For a cool pounds 3m the dream could become a reality for collectors today when the back catalogue of the pioneering record label Bethlehem is sold at auction. The original recordings of the stable of more than 100 artists, which also includes Art Blakey, Zoot Sims and Dexter Gordon, are, however, more likely to be snapped up by another record label .

The jewel in Bethlehem's crown is the original recording of "My Baby Just Cares For Me" by Nina Simone. But there is a cornucopia of tracks, including the only song written by Billie Holiday, "Left Alone", recorded by her pianist, Mal Waldron. Reissues are big business for record companies and the market for jazz remains strong with an older, loyal fan base. There is particularly strong demand for jazz originals in France and Japan.

Another lucrative spin-off is in the licensing of tracks to be used in advertising campaigns. "Left Alone" recently featured in a promotional campaign for Toshiba.

Ted Owen, of the auctioneers CooperOwen, said there had been interest from a number of other major labels. "This is a very niche, very exciting label. I have sold copyright and intellectual property before but never a whole record label. …