Bazzer’s bounty

Simon Adams and Mark Gilbert report on the imminent sale of historic LPs and other jazz material collected by JJ writer Barry McRae

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Jazz Journal's Barry McRae outside Ronnie Scott's club around 1989

As a writer for Jazz Journal for many years, Barry McRae built up a massive collection of vinyl and, later, CDs. Many were review copies, others signed gifts from musicians, or promo copies, in addition to the enormous number of records he bought for himself over the years.

This vast collection, covering the entire history of jazz, is now coming up for sale. Omega Auctions are handling the sale online, for which they have high hopes. The auctioneers give some background to the sale, including these words from Barry’s daughter Fiona:

“When Barry retired early after 43 years working for Gordon’s Gin, he travelled with his wife Sylvia and friends in the jazz world, reporting on all the big festivals, New Orleans and Nice particular favourites. A perfect retirement. My whole childhood was influenced by the music. Some I liked, some I told my Dad sounded as if they were tuning up. Barry was clearly knowledgable, talented but modest. An extremely popular jazzman, always with a story to tell, enjoying what he loved. To me he will always be just ‘Bazzer The Jazzer’.”

The first sale, on 2 June at 10.30, offers 369 lots comprising vinyl and some CDs. Among the lots are Tubby Hayes, Tubby’s Groove (LP, UK Tempo original – Tap 29) with estimate of £150-£200, starting price £80, and Johnny Griffin, The Congregation signed by Griffin, estimate £300-£500, starting £200. A second auction including vinyl, memorabilia, books and an almost complete bound set of Jazz Journal will take place on 14th July.

Barry was famous for his autograph book and would often be seen nestling the volume at gigs and receptions, seeking the signature of whatever jazz luminary might be present. It’s not known if this legendary work is included among the lots.

Simon Adams wrote an appreciation of Barry McRae for Jazz Journal in May 2019 following Bob Weir’s obituary in December 2018.