There was a time not all that long ago when obscure records with relatively abrasive – or at least not for the feint of heart – musical content didn’t break the bank or require a second mortgage on one’s house. This was even the case for the first several years of online record buying, when private-press free jazz LPs were, though rare, not a matter of renegotiating one’s financial well-being to obtain. Well, that period has been officially over for a while now, but nevertheless the hits keep coming and new price points are reached. Take, for example, the lone LP by the Black Unity Trio, Al-Fatihah, on their own Salaam imprint. It’s a scarce and in demand post-Ayler document out of Cleveland, Ohio featuring an early appearance of cellist/bassist Abdul Wadud, along with saxophonist Yusuf Mumin (of the Norman Howard group) and drummer Haasan Al-Hut. Most copies I’ve run across look like they’d been run over by a skateboard and tossed into a puddle. This one was better, with a grade of VG++ for the vinyl and probably a strong VG for the matte white cover. Nevertheless, $2,355 is nearly double the next highest price in the internet marketplace and there was a time several years ago when $400-$500 was a healthy number for this album. Not anymore! Read more
Greetings to all from the world of obscure jazz records on eBay. It feels weird writing that, considering how much strife and upset is occurring due to our political situation and like Al, it’s been hard for me to find much respite even in my own projects. At the same time, settling down with music made as the world was in the midst of conflict does give one hope that as a whole we can get through these seemingly insurmountable situations. Not unscathed, but through.
With that in mind, here are a number of European jazz records on eBay that I’ve been watching. First up is the third LP by Finnish saxophonist Eero Koivistoinen, The Original Sin, released on Scandia in 1971. It’s a fantastic slice of Finnish-American (due to the presence of guitarist Lance Gunderson) modal jazz and jazz-rock that has recently been reissued (though even the reissue is hard to find). Koivistoinen also released a couple of superb records on RCA Victor somewhat later, both of which are well worth seeking out. Scandia pressings aren’t known for their high quality, and this one was probably in VG+ or VG++ for the vinyl with the thin cover in VG or VG+ condition. The final price was $477. Read more
Hello from the Brooklyn side of things, where I trust everyone in the JazzCollector community has had a reasonably good new year. As I get back into post-vacation normalcy (or as much as one can have these days), there have been a number of nice uncommon jazz and improvised music records worth watching on good old eBay (alas, none of these have made it anywhere close to a reasonable price point for me, for a number of reasons).
First up is one you don’t see often at all, at least in its original form: Japanese guitarist Masayuki Takayanagi‘s debut leading a free-form ensemble, Independence: Tread on Sure Ground, on the Union Records imprint from 1969. The late 1970s reissue with an alternate sleeve image shows up from time to time, but this first pressing with a deep groove label and original jacket artwork is exceedingly rare. Is it rare enough for someone to Buy-It-Now for $1,500 given that the cover is a somewhat tatty-looking VG+ and the LP maybe VG++ or so? Well, this is the second time around for this BIN and there haven’t been any takers, so we will see.
Among 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).
Maybe 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!
Greetings again from the world of collectible jazz vinyl – I’m glad that Al stepped in with a mention of that Coltrane test pressing. I’d sent it to him, as others did, out of curiosity but in the final few days wasn’t expecting it to do too much damage. While to some $300 might be a steal, to others (myself included) that seemed to be just about right for a stereo test disc in VG condition and without the iconic artwork/label design. Everyone has different ideas about these things I guess.
One that surprised me today was this copy of trumpeter Don Cherry’s second LP as a leader and first for Blue Note, Complete Communion. It’s a classic mid-60s avant-garde jazz album with Cherry’s music played beautifully by Gato Barbieri, Ed Blackwell and Henry Grimes. That said, $678 for a mono copy in presumably VG++ condition for the record and cover seems downright ridiculous. I’ll happily keep on trucking with a $25 stereo early edition in similar shape.
The same seller, our old Italian friend bullsite2000, got a cool $350 for the very rare Sun Ra/LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) LP A Black Mass, issued privately on Jones’ Jihad imprint in two small runs with color or black and white printing around 1968. The b&w copy he had was listed in probably VG– condition for the record and I’d say VG for the cover. Truth be told, examples in better condition almost never show up, but that’s still a chunk of change for a mere play copy.
One that I’m watching and that may enter the $1,000 bin (and thus outside of my price range) is a fantastic LP led by alto saxophonist Marion Brown for French Polydor, Le Temps Fou, an unused soundtrack for a Marcel Camus film. The personnel include members of his working European band at the time such as Gunter Hampel, Steve McCall, Barre Phillips and Ambrose Jackson. There is one ostensibly “funky” track but the music is generally pretty far-out. The bidding is already over $250 with a couple of days left in the auction. The LP itself is probably VG+ or VG++ and the cover looks to be about a VG++ and you don’t see it often in any shape.
In any event, happy bidding and happier listening!
Greetings, fellow jazz collectors. It’s been a while since I’ve popped in other than the occasional comment, I guess, though most of my buying lately has been in shops, through friends, or on Discogs. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a few sellers on Discogs that have been exceedingly accurate and fair, which has resulted in adding a number of nice items to the racks that I never thought I’d see. That said, a significant aspect of this site is tracking jazz vinyl on eBay from the classic era, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out a couple of things.
As my collecting interests have generally been shifting to the other side of the pond(s) over the years, even in mainstream jazz, things like this record tend to be of interest. Moseholm directed the Radiojazzgruppen in Copenhagen, which performed weekly workshop broadcasts and occasionally toured elsewhere in Europe. The music was generally composed by members of the group and others in the local Copenhagen jazz scene – for example, trumpeters Hugh Steinmetz and Palle Mikkelborg, or reedist Sahib Shihab. This, their second LP for the Danish Debut imprint, was listed as VG for the vinyl and VG+ for the cover and one has to assume that the record itself was pretty well used (especially considering that Debut pressings aren’t the highest quality). It’s a very rare album in any condition and hopefully the buyer was satisfied at $350.
Speaking of Sahib Shihab, the same seller also had a copy of the reedist’s excellent Debut LP, Sahib’s Jazz Party, on offer. However, this was a bit of a mongrel with a Dutch Fontana cover (the original Debut had a sticker over the Fontana logo) and vinyl from a late 1960s German reissue, which was retitled Conversations. My assumption is that somebody had a nice cover with a broken or destroyed record and a coverless copy of the German pressing and mated them together. Nevertheless, with the vinyl in M- condition and the cover in VG++, the seller got a cool $710. I guess my Japanese repress will have to do.
One of my favorite US jazz records from the late 1960s is the second LP under tenor saxophonist Marzette Watts’ leadership. A student of trumpeter-composer Bill Dixon, Watts was also an abstract painter and later a recording engineer for many loft-jazz sessions in the 1970s. Dixon produced The Marzette Watts Ensemble for Savoy and conducted a rendition of his “Octobersong” that starts off the LP. The rest of the album features spirited small-group playing, not too ‘free,’ and a gorgeous version of “Lonely Woman” with lyrics written and sung by Patty Waters. Our friend nobbyknucks had one listed in M- condition for the record and VG– for the beautiful textured cover, which netted $315.
Hopefully everyone is finding records of interest out there and, just as importantly, squirrelling away time to listen to them!
Greetings to the fellow jazz collectors out there, and hopefully everybody stateside had an enjoyable, vinyl-filled holiday weekend. I did stop into the Jazz Record Center last week and picked up a few things, including a couple of CDs for my dad, who recently celebrated his retirement from four decades of work in the mental health field and a return to his avocation — playing the piano and composing jazz tunes.
While we’re on the subject of the Jazz Record Center, they’ve been auctioning some nice and uncommon avant-garde titles from the 60s and 70s in recent months. Many of these appear to be from the same collection, and I’ve picked up a few nice bits. The latest list features a clean promo copy of Steve Lacy’s Sortie on International Polydor (Germany). The original issue was on the Italian GTA label, which is what I have in the racks, but even the 1969 Polydor pressing is tough to find and it features a rather interesting cover image. The music is rather inspired collective improvising, and was recorded in Italy in 1966. The record and cover are listed in M- condition and the bidding is around $73 with two days to go, though I’d expect it to end around $250.
The Don Heckman-Ed Summerlin Improvisational Jazz Workshop is an odd one, issued privately in 1967 and featuring Steve Kuhn, Joe Hunt, Ron Carter and others. The group was connected to Charlotte Moorman and avant-garde performance art in late-60s downtown lofts, and while the music isn’t much to write home about, it’s a fascinating document of the jazz-art collaborative environment at the time. The bidding starts at $50 for this M- copy and there are no takers thus far; I wouldn’t mind a clean example of this one myself.
One item being sold overseas I’d been watching but at the end of the day decided my pockets weren’t deep enough was this one, from the German singer Inge Brandenburg — It’s Alright With Me on German CBS, featuring some fine performances by the Gunter Hampel Group (one of the earliest avant-garde jazz groups in Europe). The copy listed was in M- condition or thereabouts for the vinyl and maybe a strong VG++ for the cover, and the final price was $360. The price seems comparatively cheap considering the item’s rarity, but dry-voiced German jazz singers on obscure mid 60s major-label releases may not get others’ juices flowing like Blue Notes and such often do.
Finally, I guess the original Danish Debut pressing of My Name Is Albert Ayler has been a high-priced record for a while now, but it’s still impressive when a copy fetches something the high hundreds — like this one, which was probably in all around VG++ condition, closing in the last moments at $800. While far from Ayler’s definitive recording, it’s an interesting document and defines the early development of the Scandinavian avant-garde just as much as it does the burgeoning American free music climate of the 1960s.
At any rate, happy bidding/hunting and even happier listening!
It looks like it may be a banner week for avant-garde and free jazz auctions, at least if you take a look at the chunk of nice records that sometime JC poster nobbyknucks has on offer. I’ve got my watch on several of these titles but would not be surprised if I come away empty handed (not that I need any more records in a cramped Brooklyn apartment, mind you).
First up is this fine trio date led by saxophonist Byard Lancaster, Us, with drummer Steve McCall and bassist Sylvain Marc, on the French label Palm. The LP is listed in NM- condition and the cover VG- (although apparently it’s just an unglued Euro sleeve which, pasted back together, would probably be a VG+). It also includes the funky 7″ in NM- condition as well. I’ve been trying to get a copy for years and usually it’s held at around $250, though given the fact that with just under a day to go it’s already at $207, I’d have a hard time believing it won’t do serious wallet damage. It is one of the tougher records to find on Palm, which was the label run by French pianist-composer and bandleader Jef Gilson.
The auction for bassist Henry Grimes’ The Call, recorded in 1965 and his only leader date until resurfacing out in LA in the early 2000s, has me a bit perplexed. It’s a wonderful album with clarinetist Perry Robinson and drummer Tom Price, part of the famed early ESP run (the money ran out sometime in 1968), and it appears to be a 1970s pressing with an alternate label design. Normally I would think a record like this would run you about $40; however, this VG+/VG+ copy is holding tight at $111, and I’d be surprised if there isn’t a little bit of insanity in the final moments driving it even higher.
Reedist Peter Brötzmann’s Machine Gun is a classic German free jazz session, an example of which should be in every home in America… or at least those homes that appreciate rather dense improvised music. It was originally issued on Peter’s own BRÖ imprint in 1968-69, apparently in two pressings (one with a top-loading sleeve, the other with a normal side-loading sleeve). FMP reissued it in 1972 and there were several FMP editions into the late 1980s. The copy on auction here is probably a first FMP, so third pressing, and is also priced at $111, though that’ll probably change by Monday afternoon. The vinyl is listed in NM condition and the matte cover looks to be about a VG+ to VG++ with some wear. I’ve got a clean later FMP copy and am holding out for a crisp original BRÖ. Maybe the Mrs. Clifford will find one for my Christmas present this year?
I’m proud to own a copy of Opium/For Franz, a collaboration between Austrian trumpeter-composer Franz Köglmann and the great American trumpeter-composer Bill Dixon. Privately released on Köglmann’s own Pipe label, each copy has a different hand-painted sleeve and is signed on the back by Mr. Köglmann (the one I acquired has a bit of newspaper glued onto it, giving a collage-like effect). It’s a beautiful album from a musical perspective as well as visually, and this is a pretty fine example on offer… $90 doesn’t seem too bad for a NM copy with a VG++ cover, but who knows what the final price will be.
As always, happy collecting and happier listening!
Like many of you, I’ve been watching the auctions of a Maine dealer under the handle “the-things-that-are” and his or her impressive list of 1960s underground jazz rarities and European small-press records. Initially the seller put up an impressive buy-it-now list with rare early recordings from Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, and the composer Moondog. Most of these did not sell at fixed prices, although a few choice pre-production and very ornate-looking copies of Ayler’s Bells moved at $1,250 and $1,050, respectively. One seemed to be hand-printed on clear plastic, a variant that I’ve never seen before. These limited-run early versions of Bells surely made their intended mark at the time of release in 1966, and once ESP put it into production the record saw numerous variants of clear and colored vinyl and regularly printed or screen-printed color combinations. At auction, the seller did well with a number of interesting versions, even bringing in the ducats on a couple of damaged multicolor copies and 1970s stereo pressings (which normally don’t go much over $40). Read more