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!

Bud, Ella, Bird, Jackie: A Day on eBay

Bud Powell Jazz Vinyl copyI’ve been off eBay for a few days recovering from my Bronx adventure, so today I will go back to my watch list and take inventory of what I have missed, starting with The Amazing Bud Powell Volume 2, Blue Note 5041. This was an original 10-inch pressing listed in near mint condition for the record and probably M- or VG++++ for the cover. It had a start price of $595 and did not get any bids. On the one hand I’m surprised because you just don’t find many 10-inch Blue Notes in this kind of condition. And this is a great record, with a great cover. On the other hand, $600 is still a lot of money.

Everybody’s favorite, bobdjukic, was back with some auctions and, as usual, some hyperbole. This was a highlight from Ella Fitzgerald, and I will give the full title because it is quite a weird mouthful: Miss Ella Fitzgerald and Mr. Gordon Jenkins (with His Orchestra and Chorus) Invite You to Listen and Relax, Decca 8696. According to the listing this is “Easily and By Far Ella Fitzgerald’s Rarest Studio Album in Existence!” I love that stuff, and then it gets topped off with the old standby “ultra-rare.” Somehow this stuff actually works. The record and cover were graded VG++, although the description makes it clear that VG++ for the cover is a wild stretch, since there is actually a partial seam split. Anyway, some how, some way, someone bid $259 for this record. I think I got my copy, in better condition, for $5 at a record show, which was not far from the going rate a few years back.  Read more

Free Jazz for the $1,000 Bin

Ws-l1600ell, with Al manning the helm frequently in recent months, I haven’t popped in too much with observations of jazz records that are outside the “classic” era of collecting this music. But there have been quite a number of interesting eBay auctions and as with seemingly almost every kind of rare or semi-rare record, the prices keep on climbing.

Let’s start with the recent spate of avant-garde jazz records sold by a sometime commenter on the site, nobbyknucks. The cream of the crop was this 1972 LP by Philly vibraphonist Khan Jamal, Drum Dance to the Motherland. It was an original private pressing on the Dogtown label (Byard Lancaster; Sounds of Liberation) and sold for a whopping $1,705. The vinyl was listed in NM/VG++ condition and the economical, paste-on cover in VG+ condition with light wear. I’ve seen this record sell for a hefty price before but this took the cake. It’s a reverb-heavy, somewhat psychedelic-sounding record in the vein of Sun Ra’s post-1962 recordings, rather free but also groovy in spots, and easy to understand why people are after it.

Speaking of Sun Ra, the same seller got decent prices for a pair of rather well-used Saturns, Jazz in Silhouette and Super-Sonic Jazz. In VG++ or better condition these would probably have broken into the $1,000 bin with ease. However, it’s hard to sneeze at copies in “G” condition getting $461 and $385, respectively.

A little more in the realm of normalcy – or at least not super-sonic pricing – is this copy of Jeanne Lee’s Conspiracy, an all-star date of sorts in the loft-jazz realm, but rendered with captivating and unique lyricism. There were two pressings of this album, one released on Mait Edey’s Seeds label and the other on Lee’s own Earthforms imprint (I think the Earthforms is second). Graded at NM or M- for both the record and cover, this sharp example went for $316.

I’m not sure how many records are floating around with Albert Ayler’s signature and I can’t think that I’ve seen more than a couple in years of collecting, so this first commercial edition of Spiritual Unity on ESP is quite attractive in the sense of being a significant album with a significant autograph. However the condition leaves a little to be desired as both the record and cover are listed as VG (and the cover seems pretty worn). I can’t verify whether the personalized penmanship is Mr. Ayler’s but it seems a forgery would be unlikely, especially since it’s in pen and worn off about as much as the silkscreen printing. The seller had it as a Buy-It-Now for $1400 and there were no takers; maybe at $1300 someone will bite?

As always, happy bidding and happier listening!

Recent Jazz Vinyl Sales, Random Comments

walter davis jazz vinylSorry for the entirely unexpected break in the action. Back to business: Walter Davis Jr. , Davis Cup, Blue Note 4018. This was an original West 63rd Street pressing. The record was in M- condition and the cover was listed as Ex. The final price was $1,104. Welcome to the $1,000 bin, which is getting quite crowded these days. I remember seeing Walter Davis Jr. many times in the early 1970s. When Sonny Rollins made one of his “comebacks” from retirement, Davis was in his regular band, along with Al Foster and Bob Crenshaw. He often also had a Japanese guitarist by the name of Yoshiaki Masuo. Anyway, Davis was always a terrific soloist and accompanist and had a very positive vibe. I don’t have an original pressing of this record, just the United Artists reissue, but it is definitely one I’d love to own someday. Just not for $1,100.

Sometimes here at Jazz Collector we get interesting and random comments on older articles. Or comments get buried under newer comments. There’s a tab on the right size of the home page (and subsequent pages) for “Recent Comments.” I’m not sure if many of you ever click it, but it’s a good idea. For example, I’m not sure how many of you

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A Jazz Potpourri for the New Year

John Coltrane Jazz Vinyl Blue TrainHere’s a jazz potpourri to start the new year. This one came in from CeeDee under the subject “another for the $1k club” and it was John Coltrane, Blue Train, Blue Note 1577. This was an early (second?) pressing with the West 63rd Street able, deep grooves, RVG, ear, etc. An original original would have the New York 23 label on one side, which would make it a potential $2,000 record. This one was in M- condition for both the record and the cover and it sold for $1,000.01. It’s not a first pressing but, in that condition and given the state of the Blue Note market, the inclusion into the $1,000 club is, for me, not a big surprise. CeeDee also sent me this one, which is a surprise: Earl “Fatha” Hines, Here Comes, Contact CM-6. This was an original pressing with the gatefold cover. It was part of the Dr. Herb Wong collection being sold by Funkyousounds. The record was listed in VG++ condition for the vinyl and VG+ for the cover. It sold for $192.50. I really can’t recall any Fatha Hines records attracting collectible prices, or even collector interest, so this is a surprise. It does have Richard Davis and Elvin Jones and a pretty cool cover, so perhaps that drove the interest. Any other thoughts?

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A Price Supreme. A Price Supreme

A Love Supreme Promo Jazz VinylThis one comes from CeeDee in an email with the above headline and all I can say is “WOW!” John Coltrane, A Love Supreme, Impulse 77. This was an original white label promo copy. The record was listed in M- condition and the cover was Ex. The final price was $1,225, which is the most we’ve seen for A Love Supreme. It is certainly a classic record, and there is definitely a limited supply of promo copies, so I guess if you want to own one you have to pay the price. The same seller also sold this: Tina Brooks, True Blue, Blue Note 4041. This was an original pressing listed in VG+ (or slightly better) condition for both the record and the cover. The final price was $2,550.

 

 

What’s A Signature Worth, And What If It’s More Than Just An Autograph?

Joe Henderson AutographHere are a few odds and ends from the Jazz Collector in box. Mark sent us this link: Joe Henderson, In ‘N Out, Blue Note 84166. The back cover is all messed up with writing all over it. Except, here’s the explanation from Mark: “So the seller claims the notes and signature are by Joe..an inquiry made to the seller revealed that this album came from the collection of a fellow who booked shows for the Left Bank Jazz Society in Baltimore.  Apparently there were many signed albums in his collection along with a photograph of Monk and Wynton Kelly sitting on his own couch! Anyway..interesting piece…” I kind of have a soft spot for memorabilia such as this, although I don’t actually collect it. The record and cover looked to be an original stereo pressing. The final price was $275. Not sure if the writing and signature ensured a higher price, or whether it actually diminished the price. I would guess a stereo copy would get less than $275, so someone probably through the writing was worth something. That’s how I would view it.

There was also this signed record, noted by one of our readers:

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Monday Morning Blue Notes

Hank Mobley Jazz VinylCatching up on some jazz vinyl from eBay, staring with Hank Mobley, Blue Note 1568. This was a West 63rd Street pressing without the New York 23. It had the deep grooves, ear and other hallmarks of a first pressing, or second depending upon your interpretation. The record was in VG+ condition and the cover looked to be about VG. The final price was $2,575. This seems to be one of those records that has taken on mythic proportions in the collectibles market. Who would have thought even a few years ago that VG+/VG would translate into a value of more than $2,500? A few years from now I would expect the value to be even higher. Speaking of Blue Notes in less than stellar condition:

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Lee Morgan, Indeed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lee Morgan Jazz VinylPeople have already commented on this, but it must have its own post. That Lee Morgan record I mentioned the other day, Lee Morgan, Indeed!, Blue Note 1538. If you recall, I kind of joshed with the seller, chiding him for stating that his copy was “the finest on planet earth.” Apparently the hyperbole worked quite well, indeed! There were at least nine bidders that I could identify and 25 bids. The final price was, get this, $7,786. Not counting that weird Hank Mobley Blue Note 1568 from a few months back that got a bid of more than $11,000 — which turned out to be not a real bid, but some kind of barter — this is the highest price we can recall seeing for any jazz record. I hope the buyer gets a lot of joy out of it. I’m sure the seller already has.

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