Back In Business: Bird, Blue Notes and More

birdI actually have more I want to say about the Coltrane documentary, which I will do in a subsequent post, but today I promised Jazz Collector readers a regular post and that typically means looking at some rare jazz records on eBay. As I type this I have a random playlist on in the background and Bird just came on playing “Confirmation.” So let me pause for a moment. Okay, back with you all.

Well, perhaps there is something in the air. First record I went to on eBay is: Charlie Parker, Bird Blows the Blues, Dial 901. This is an original pressing with the red vinyl. I believe we have established here on Jazz Collector that this was the first 12-inch vinyl record ever? I add the question mark because I’m still not sure. Anyway, I have never owned a copy of this record, and won’t own this one. The starting price is $1,500 and it’s only in VG condition. Even worse, the seller doesn’t include an original picture. That very clear, really enticing picture accompanying the listing, and accompanying this post, is actually copied from a book. For $1,500, I personally wouldn’t mind seeing the real deal, not that I would ever pay $1,500 anyway.

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Chasing Trane 2: A Love Supreme Trumps Hate

a-love-supreme-albumBy Al Perlman
Editor and Publisher, Jazz Collector

To my regular Jazz Collector readers, I promise I will be back with a normal post on Tuesday. In the meantime, I ask for one final indulgence for this one final post so I can close the book on this Chasing Trane diversion.

First of all, I would like to let you all know that I am doing well. Since the election I have not turned on the television news or read any news or opinions in any periodical — print or online. It has been a blessing. My head is not clogged with useless information, my guts are not wrenched with fear, my vision is not clouded with images of people who spew hatred, vitriol and divisiveness.

Even better, I have begun to channel the spiritual awareness that the Coltrane documentary helped to inspire. I am walking down the street with a new energy that seems to be apparent because people are smiling at me and talking to me as never before. I am chatting with people in the elevator. I’ve reached out to friends that I have been estranged from for years. Plus, with my head cleared, I’ve had a burst of creative energy. The previous post on Chasing Trane is just one example. I am also doing great work for my clients and I am doing more writing on the side.

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Chasing Trane: A Review, An Appreciation, A Spiritual Awakening

chasing-traneBy Al Perlman
Editor and Publisher, Jazz Collector

It is the day after Thanksgiving here in the States and one of the things I am grateful for is the new John Coltrane documentary Chasing Trane, written and directed by John Scheinfeld. I was fortunate to see this film on the closing night of DOC NYC, the New York documentary film festival. It was a week ago last Thursday and it has had a deep emotional impact on me that is still resonating, which I will discuss in a bit. But first let me tell you about the film.

First off, Scheinfeld is a terrific documentary filmmaker, IMHO. I am a huge fan of two of his earlier movies, The U.S. vs. John Lennon and Who is Harry Nilsson . . .? I knew virtually nothing about Nilsson when I watched that film and I’ve since recommended it to all of my friends and family, and now to all of my readers here at Jazz Collector. Perhaps because of Scheinfeld’s reputation, the Coltrane family welcomed him to do this film and gave him access to Coltrane’s music, archives and even home movies.

In Chasing Trane, Scheinfeld has created a moving and inspirational tribute to one of the great musicians and spiritual influences of our times. He uses film footage and photos of Coltrane, some never before seen, interspersed with comments from a wide range of friends, family, fans, biographers and other admirers. I was personally moved by the comments from Coltrane contemporaries and close friends, Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson and, especially, Sonny Rollins. And I was surprised and impressed by the depth of knowledge and connection to Coltrane’s music and spirit expressed by former President Bill Clinton. But I was not surprised by how often some of these commentators were at a loss for words to describe Coltrane’s music or his influence because, as Sonny says, the only way to truly understand and feel the music is Read more

Albert Ayler, Sonny Murray and Coltrane Vinyl on EBay

s-l1600Among the first jazz musicians to really get me excited about this music was Albert Ayler. I have great memories of hearing Bells and Spiritual Unity at the record store where a friend of mine worked back in the mid-1990s. The sound of his saxophone and his ensembles completely rearranged my brain and what I thought music could be. Coming from a perspective that was jazz-curious and a bit tired of the punk/indie landscape, Ayler was exactly the sort of aesthetic catalyst I needed. At one point it seemed like his records were relatively easy to obtain, if not always in their original form, and not necessarily desired by the “big-money” jazz collectors out there.

That’s changed somewhat, as seen in this first commercial issue of Spiritual Unity on ESP-Disk’ with the red-on-white silkscreened cover, booklet, and alternate take of “Ghosts (Second Variation).” It’s a beautiful piece of the recorded history of improvised music, and from what I understand one of the most sonically representative examples of Ayler’s sound. For a copy in VG++ condition for the vinyl and VG+ condition for the cover (with what looks like slight damage to the upper left seam), the closing price was $800. Perhaps not Blue Note territory, but expensive nonetheless. I attempted to get in the fray but was quickly dispatched and will have to continue chugging along on a clean second-ish pressing (purchased for around $10 almost 20 years ago).

Another prime early Ayler side and a rare sideman appearance is on drummer Sunny Murray’s Sonny ‘sTime Now (sic), issued on poet LeRoi Jones’ Jihad label in 1965 or ’66. Though comparatively easier to find than a first edition Spiritual Unity and with a Japanese pressing circulating as well (which is what I have), it’s still an important 1960s jazz collectible. The seller of the Ayler above had one on offer in VG+ or VG++ condition for the vinyl and cover, including the mimeographed insert. The price at the end was $325.

And just for comparison to the recent auction of the test pressing of A Love Supreme, this seller also had an original mono of the iconic Coltrane album in very nice-looking condition, with the LP in VG++ condition and the cover also in probably VG+ or VG++ condition. The end price was $365, or $65 more than the coverless test issue. That’s a respectable price, if not top dollar.

As always, happy collecting and happier listening (we need the latter especially right now).

The Byrds is Coming

donald-byrdTraffic’s been a little light on Jazz Collector the past few days. In retrospect, perhaps the “When Your Smilin'” headline did not quite capture the zeitgeist of what is going on around here, and around the world. In any case, I have been able to return do eBay after a few days in a dark hole, figuratively of course, and I will once again look to jazz and my records for comfort and  safety and inspiration. This is a record I was watching with interest on eBay: Donald Byrd, Byrd in Paris Volume 1, Signature 1039. For some reason I had always thought of this as a MAJOR collectible, but I guess I was wrong. This copy was listed in VG+ condition for the record and the cover and, based on the seller’s more detailed description, this sounded reasonable. The record sold for $100. At first I thought the price was missing a zero, but then I went to Popsike and discovered that, while this was on the low side, it wasn’t completely unreasonable. Live and learn.

Then there was this weird Donald Byrd record:

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When You’re Smilin’

jutta-hipp-jazz-vinylNow that I have no election to obsess over, and I don’t yet have the appetite to read about what will happen next to my wonderful country, I have more time to listen to records, read about jazz and look at the always interesting activity on eBay. So, perhaps, I will do more Jazz Collector posts and finally set aside time to put into the Jazz Collector Price Guide, which can really use an update. Look for the silver lining, as the wonderful song says.

Anyway, here are a few of items that recently sold on eBay, starting with Jutta Hipp with Zoot Sims, Blue Note 1530. This was an original Lexington Avenue pressing listed in VG++ condition for the record and VG+ for the cover, with some visible staining on the back cover that could be a turn off for some buyers, but obviously was not that big a turn off for the buyer of this copy, who paid $2,850.88. In fact, looking over the cover pictures again, it looks like VG+ is a pretty generous grade. I have an absolutely clean version of this record that I purchased from the Bruce M. West collection in Baltimore, thoughts of which always put a smile on my face.

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And Another Rare Jazz Vinyl Quartet

tadd-dameronAnyway. Here are some of the rare jazz records we are watching on eBay, starting with Tadd Dameron, Fontainebleau, Prestige 7037. This is an original yellow label pressing with the New York address. The record is listed in M- condition for the vinyl and Ex for the cover, with a promo stamp and some damage on the back. The bidding is in the $225 range with more than four days left. Although this is a nice record from the early Prestige 12-inch catalogue, it’s never been one that has been overly attractive to collectors, although it looks pretty good to me. Here’s another Prestige from the same seller that most collectors will find to be quite a bit more enticing: Hank Mobley, Mobley’s Message, Prestige  7061. This is also an original New York yellow label. The record is in M- condition and the cover is listed as M-, although I may slightly quibble and push it down to VG++ based on the picture. The price is in the $560 range, also with four days left on the auction.

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Tracking European Jazz Rarities and More on eBay

Maybes-l1600-1 I’ve said this elsewhere, but the longer I’ve been interested in collecting jazz records, the more deeply I’ve gotten into jazz records from “elsewhere” or at the very least far outside the canonical realm of collecting. I suppose that’s relatively normal – the more time one spends with something the deeper one gets into it, and with music, the further afield one’s results will fall. It’s perhaps a “long-tail” of taste, and has led me to European and Japanese jazz as well as numerous obscure, often privately-pressed American jazz gems. Though my tastes remain well on the avant-garde side of things, that’s not a necessity for enjoyment.

Here’s one that really caught my eye recently; Danish drummer Bjarne Rostvold recorded with Kenny Drew, Bent Axen and Allan Botchinsky among others. Probably his rarest side is Jazz Journey, recorded for the tiny label Hit Records with Axen, Botchinsky and Erik Moseholm on bass. It was reissued by Sawano several years ago and even that pressing is fairly pricy. A few originals have turned up over the years, usually in pretty rough condition, and still netted prices north of $500. Well, this copy really went into the stratosphere, closing at $3,700 with the vinyl in presumably VG+ or VG++ for the record and a weak VG+ for the cover. It’s far rarer than a lot of in-demand American modern jazz LPs, so the price seems commensurate… while still out of the range of sanity for me.

Falling a little afield from the jazz or free-jazz realm but still of interest to collectors of improvised music is this wonderful LP assembled by electronic music and sound library composer Basil Kirchin, featuring improvisations with Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, and and uncredited cellist and percussionist mated to a fascinating array of tape-manipulated field recordings. Worlds Within Worlds is a very special record and probably one of the weirdest albums to come out on UK EMI/Columbia (there’s a second volume with the same title on Island, released a few years later). This copy is listed in “EX” or probably VG++ for the record and VG+ for the cover, which looks to have suffered a bit of water damage at some point though I guess it’s still presentable. The bidding has it just shy of $300 with a day to go, though it will probably top twice that.

A bit more in the realm of classic American jazz (hard bop) but still not well-known by any stretch is a sextet LP led by drummer Dave Bailey for the small Jazz Line/Jazztime label, Bash!, featuring an all star lineup of figures like Curtis Fuller, Tommy Flanagan and Kenny Dorham. It’s certainly not a common record and usually when it comes up for sale it’s been put through the ringer. Boston area seller Stereo Jack’s had one in probably VG++ condition for the record and VG+ condition for the cover, and it ended at a cool $1,259 – certainly the highest price I’ve seen it at auction. Hope the buyer is satisfied with the condition.

At any rate, as always, happy collecting and happier listening!

A Rare Jazz Vinyl Quartet

eric-dolphy-jazz-vinylHere zre are some of the rare jazz records that have been sitting in our eBay watch list, starting with Eric Dolphy, Outward Bound, New Jazz 8236. This was an original pressing with the purple label and the deep grooves. The record was listed in M- condition and the cover was Ex, equivalent to VG++, according to the seller’s description. The final price was $837. High, but certainly not surprising for an original classic such as this. From the same seller, there was Kenny Dorham, Quiet Kenny, New Jazz 8225. This was also an original pressing with the purple label and the deep grooves. The record was listed in VG+ condition, as was the cover. The final price was $1,083. And one more from the same seller, this one a tease for me, but not in a comfortable price range, although certainly a fair price range based on the final bid:

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Of Blue Notes, Later Pressings and Big Bucks

cool-struttin-jazz-vinylOne of our readers, with a sense of wonder, sent me this link: Sonny Clark, Cool Struttin’, Blue Note 1588. The record was listed in M- condition. The cover was maybe VG+ at best, depending upon how partial you are to having the word “Super” written in dark red marker across the back of your records. The final price was $422, which at first glance one might attribute to the condition of the cover. Except for one thing: This was a Liberty pressing, not just the label, the cover, too. So now we have third, fourth or whatever generation Liberty Blue Notes selling for more than $400. Oh, the humanity! If I had known, I would have saved them all, and I had a lot of them, including Cool Struttin’. I was happy, at the time, to get $20 or $30 apiece. What is going on? Read more

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