A New One (to Me), and An Old One With a $5,000 Tag

Joe Pass Jazz VinylIt is always a great pleasure, and often a great surprise, to come upon an album that is completely new to us. After all, we’ve been collecting jazz for more than 45 years, so you’d think there would be no surprises left. Well here’s one: Joe Pass, Better Days, Gwyn Records 1001. This is a stereo pressing from 1971 and I had never seen it, never heard of it and never heard of Gwyn Records. Fortunately, there is Google, and this post from Carol Kaye, the great Los Angeles-based studio bassist who was part of the group of musicians that came to be known as The Wrecking Crew. Apparently it was Kaye herself who conceived of the album and produced it. I’ve never seen it or hear of it, although, to be fair, I am not a collector of Joe Pass records on any level. This one is listed in Ex+ condition for the record and Ex for the cover. The price is in the range of $275 with about a day and a half left on the auction as of this writing.

There’s always a lot of debate around here on the value of having reserve prices versus just starting an auction with your lowest acceptable price, or some reasonable facsimile. So here’s one that caught my eye:

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A Simple Matter of Condition

Jackie McLean copyCatching up on a few items still lingering on the Jazz Collector watch list, starting with Jackie McLean, The New Tradition, Ad Lib 6601. This was an original pressing that was listed in VG- or worse condition for the record and VG- for the cover. Despite the condition it sold for $711.80. I have a bit of a hard time relating to a collector who would pay more than $700 for a record that (1) may not even be playable and (2) has a damaged cover that may not even look so good on your shelves. You may recall that I briefly owned a copy of the Jackie record a couple of months ago. That one was in VG condition for the record and VG- for the cover. I wasn’t happy with it and, in the context of the overall package of records, I would have paid less than $711 for it. So maybe the woman who reneged on the deal will do better selling it in that condition to another collector willing to simply own a copy of a really rare record without worrying to much about listening to it. That ain’t me.

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Vinyl Treasures from the U.S. and U.K.

ernie henry jazz vinylHere’s one I’d consider if I didn’t already own a copy: Presenting Ernie Henry, Riverside 222. This is an original pressing with the white label and deep grooves. Wonderful record featuring Kenny Dorham and Kenny Drew, and, of course, Henry, who had a really unique voice that was silenced when he died tragically of a heroin overdose at the age of 31. You don’t see too many white-label versions of this record pop up on eBay. This one is in VG+ condition for both the record and the cover. The start price is in the $250 range and the auction closes later today. So far, there are no bidders. Here’s another great record that may or may not sell when the auction closes later today: Elmo Hope, Informal Jazz, Prestige 7034. This is an original yellow label New York pressing listed in M- condition for both the record and the cover. The bidding has already exceeded $600 but that doesn’t mean it has exceeded the seller’s reserve price, which it hasn’t.

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Back in Jazz Vinyl Action

Walter Davis Jr Jazz VinylBack in action after some minor surgery last week. Feeling good and ready to roll with some jazz vinyl on ebay, starting with a couple of Blue Notes from the Jazz Collector Want List that both broke into the $1,000 bin: Walter Davis Jr., Davis Cup, Blue Note 4018. This was an original pressing that looked to be probably M- for the record and VG++ or VG+ for the cover. There were 15 bidders and the final price was $1,125. Then there was Cliff Jordan, Cliff Craft, Blue Note 1582. This was also an original West 63rd Street pressing. The record was listed as M- and the cover was VG++. There were 14 bidders for this one and the final price came in at $1,304. Our friend CeeDee sent us a note about this one, but we were already watching it:

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Jazz Vinyl Rarities From Red, Funk & France

REd Rodney Jazz VinylSorry, again, for the gap between posts but, as I said, the workload has been particularly heavy lately. Thanks to ceedee for his occasional emails keeping me up on things I may have missed. He sent me two this week, the first being: Red Rodney, Signal 1206. This was an original pressing listed in VG++ for the record and VG+ for the cover. The final price was $1,413.99, so I can see why he sent it. That’s the highest price I recall seeing for that record, although a quick search over to Popsike shows that there have been several higher and this one falls right into the normal range, although that VG+ cover would be of concern, at least to me, at least if I was paying $1,400, which I would never do anyway.

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Pepper Prices Nothing to Sneeze At

Art Pepper JAzz VinylLet’s catch up on some jazz vinyl we’ve been watching on eBay, starting with a dash of pepper: Art Pepper Quintet, Discovery 3023. This was an original 10-inch pressing listed in M- condition for the record and probably about VG+ for the cover. The final price was $481. This is not one that comes up when you think about rare records but, honestly, I can’t recall the last time I saw a copy of this on eBay. I had a copy once. It had a scratch that caused several skips. I had a friend who was a Pepper fan and he offered me $50 for it. I think he wanted the cover and probably to listen to the side without the scratch. And then we are back in the nearly $3,000 bin with Art Pepper, Modern Art, Intro 606. This was an original pressing listed in M- condition for both the record and the cover. The final price was $2,700. This was the same record that ostensibly sold for more than $3,500 last week but something must have gone wrong and it was back on eBay. Perhaps the first buyer missed the line about superficial hairlines, which may take it out of the M- category.

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Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, Milford Graves + More for the $1,000-Up Bin

s-l1600Like 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

More Rare Jazz Vinyl, Of Course

Hank Mobley Jazz VinylLet’s start the day with one of the rarest of the rare, although as rare as it may be, copies seem to be up on eBay quite often: Hank Mobley, Blue Note 1568. This looks to be an original pressing with the West 63rd Street address and, for those who really care, the New York 23 label on one side. This copy is listed in VG++ condition for the record and VG++ for the cover, although based on the pictures the cover may be more in the VG+ range with some damage on the back. The seller is not an eBay regular and has only 11 feedbacks. This one closes Saturday night and is currently in the $2,000 range.

While we’re on Mobley, there is also: Hank Mobley Sextet, Blue Note 1560. This is an original pressing with the West 63rd Street address, deep grooves, Van Gelder, ear, etc. This one is listed in VG++ condition for the record and VG+ for the cover. The start price is $1,250, but so far there are no bidders.  This seller has three other records on eBay now, all with starting prices of more than $1,000, all with zero bids as of now. One more, for the record: Bill Evans, Waltz For Debby, Riverside RS 9399. This is an original black label stereo pressing. It is listed in M- condition for the record and VG++ for the cover. The start price is $1,100.

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What Makes Us Covet Certain Records vs Others?

Tal Farlow Jazz VinylWhilst I’ve been away, a friend sent me this link: A Recital by Tal Farlow, Norgran 1030. This was an original pressing listed in M- condition for both the record and the cover. It looked pristine, probably with the original inner sleeve. The final price was $121.49. Is that high, low or just right? It seems original Norgrans in this condition are quite hard to find, but the demand is nothing close to the original Blue Notes or Prestiges. For my money, Farlow was the best of the bop-oriented guitarists, but his records rarely sell for high collectible prices, particularly in today’s market as we are seeing prices of some records rising to staggering levels. Is it a question of label, race, style of music, era, artist, instrument or some combination of all of the above? It would be easy to suggest it is race, but then someone sent me this link as well: Art Pepper, Modern Art, Intro 606. This was also an original pressing and it was also in M- condition for the record and the cover. This one sold for $3,506. Pepper was iconic because of all the other stuff in his life, so well told and chronicled in his book Straight Life so maybe I’m just stretching a comparison, but it’s interesting to ponder what makes collectors interested in one set of records or artists, versus others of the same era. Hopefully we can generate some interesting discussion.

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Avant-garde cracking the $2000 Bin on eBay

s-l1600Greetings from the other side of the collectible jazz spectrum. It’s been a rather interesting couple of weeks on eBay with some very nice free jazz and avant-garde LPs coming up for auction from a variety of sources; hopefully that continues unabated. First up, and I must say that rarely do we see free jazz records cross into the $2,000 bin, is Peace In The World from reedist-pianist Michael Cosmic. This was an original private pressing from the mid-70s on the Cosmic Records label in what looked to be M- condition for both the record and the cover, closing at $2,025. There are a few different cover variations, all handmade and with different mimeographed, occasionally hand-colored front slicks (my copy is lettered “Cosmic Paradise: Peace in the World). Some are numbered and others are not. In any event, it’s a very rare and quite strong album that has attained rather mythical status in certain circles, and this is the highest price I’ve seen it reach.

Cosmic and his brother Phill Musra (both né Cooper) appeared with Turkish-born drummer on the latter’s excellent The Creator Spaces LP in 1974. The same seller also had an example of that record on offer – an original private pressing on the Intex label in M- condition for the record and probably VG+ for the cover, with some flaws in the fragile paste-on slicks. It sold for a cool $475, and (in my opinion) is probably musically the best of the four records they waxed together. I’ve seen copies with an abstract drawing on the front slick and others with the stock photo of Phill playing the tenor and after talking with Phill, they both seem to have come out around the same time.

That same seller also had a record that I’ve long been curious about but never actually dropped the needle on – Abdullah Sami Piece of Time, a private pressing on Abdullah Sami Records with a similar look and feel to the Cosmic and Musra. Listed in M- condition for the vinyl and probably about a VG++ on the fragile paste-on cover, it went for a hefty $970.

Among the records I’ve been after for years and, alas, only have on CD, are the first two Spontaneous Music Ensemble LPs. English records from the mid- to late-60s in their original form, no matter the musical content, have been desirable items for as long as I can remember and the SMEs are no exception. Challenge, their first record, is a bit more straight-ahead in its concept and was issued in a small run on the Eyemark label in 1967, which otherwise seems to have been a home for custom field recordings. This copy was listed as “EX” for the vinyl and “VG+” for the cover, but with the level of staining and wrinkling from moisture I’d be hard pressed to call the cover anything but VG and was more than a little suspect of the LP condition. Someone wasn’t, though, and forked over $590 for it.

Their second LP, Karyobin, was issued on Island in 1968 and is more firmly in the “alien bug music” realm (to quote drummer Weasel Walter) that characterized a certain school of UK improvisation throughout the 1970s and ’80s. The same seller had a copy listed as “EX” for the vinyl and “VG+” for the cover, which could’ve been accurate though I assume VG+ all around is probably more likely. Still, it netted $327. A high-volume seller with minimal descriptions, a bunch of negative feedback, and records with worn covers probably kept some people, myself included, from getting into the fray. I’d love M- copies of both records, of course – maybe someday.

Finally, another one I’m glad to have in my collection and feel lucky to have found affordably is this Dutch gem from pianist-clarinetist Kees Hazevoet, Pleasure One, a private pressing on Peace Records from 1970. It’s his first LP as a leader and comes in a beautiful, rather psychedelic-looking silkscreened cover. Not for the feint of heart, the music is rather intense. The condition was hard to figure on this copy as it was listed as M- or VG++ visually but play-graded VG- or VG. My copy sounds fine so I think this one must have been a bum pressing. The cover, while missing the back logo decal, still presented well in VG++ condition and sure is vibrant. It went for $345.

Anyway, thanks for reading this far and as always, happy bidding and happier listening!

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