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
Greetings 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!
I don’t want to interrupt the discussion on the previous post, so please keep it going. With all of the action the past few days, we’ve reached somewhat of a milestone here at Jazz Collector. According to the statistics compiled by WordPress, yesterday we went over 2 million page views since we began tracking such things back in the fall of 2008. Our first month we had 296 page views and last month we had about 40,000.We are now averaging more than 1,350 page views every day. In all we’ve had 1,557 total posts, of which I have written all but seven (although, to be fair, we’ve had several guest columns in which I have been the poster, but it’s been someone else’s words). Anyway, I feel pretty good about all this, how we’ve been able to build the community organically all these years and how we’ve been able to keep the site independent and fun and still just a hobby. No plans for any major changes from my end.
Now, back to jazz vinyl. I see that our friends at the Jazz Record Center have a new auction with a few nice items, including:
Does a listing like this one tempt you: Collection of 40 RARE Original Jazz Albums LP’s All on the Blue Note Label? The seller states clearly that the records are all in VG condition or below. He also shows pictures with a lot of damaged covers. Yet . . . I see that picture of Lou Donaldson, Quartet, Quintet and Sextet, Blue Note 1537, and I think: Maybe it’s not that bad, maybe if I clean up the record, it would play nicely on my turntable and sit nicely on my shelf. There are also some other nice potentialities in the listing, such as Hank Mobley Roll Call, Whims of Chambers, Bass on Top, and a bunch of Blakeys, among others. There’s also a lot of junk. Anyway, my answer to the question is “Yes I am tempted.” At what price? That remains to be seen. So far the bidding is at $743.
Greetings all – Al should be back posting soon as I think he’s nearly back from holiday, but it’s been fun writing up various eBay shenanigans while he’s been out. The Jazz Record Center had a number of interesting items up last week, mostly 70s jazz on the Strata-East label, and I actually completely let these records slip notice until they were done for. A few titles in the list I might’ve gone toe-to-toe on but likely would’ve been taken to the cleaners anyway, starting with this one:
M’Boom – their self-titled debut, issued on Strata-East in 1973, went for a whopping $1,592. It’s probably the rarest Strata-East album by a long shot and certainly one of the scarcest in Roach’s discography. My memory is foggy on the details, but I believe that Roach decided he wanted the record pulled right after Strata-East released it and most copies were destroyed. Maybe he had a falling out with Tolliver and Cowell? A few leaked out, though, and it was bootlegged on CD in Japan several years ago (that’s what I’ve got). It’s probably their strongest album, and percussion ensembles are (for me) usually a pretty engaging listen. This one was M- for both record and cover.
Trombonist John Gordon’s Erotica Suite is another rare Strata-East title, though I don’t think I’ve ever seen it go for quite this much. Sealed and presumed Mint, this copy went for just shy of $1,000. It’s a nice, funky post-bop record with reedist James Spaulding, drummer Frank Derrick and trumpeter Waymon Reed. Gordon has another nice record on Strata-East that doesn’t usually go for nearly as much – in fact, it attracted no bids at the opening price of $75 and was also sealed.
Here’s a rare one – pianist Enrique Villegas’ trio featuring Paul Gonsalves and Willie Cook, titled Encuentro, on the Argentine label Trova (which also issued a nice record by pianist Alberto Favero called Suite Trane). Fred showed it to me in the shop at one point though I wasn’t feeling like spending $250 that day. Someone got lucky and was able to get it for $91 at auction. The record was listed as M- and the cover was probably a strong VG++. I like those later Gonsalves LPs and wouldn’t mind having this one in the collection at some point.
Until next time, happy bidding and happier listening…
I thought I’d have more to say about the death or Ornette Coleman, but I really don’t. I am not an expert on his music and was never really a fan, although I typically liked what I heard, at least from his early years. So I’m going to go back to what I normally do here, which is watch records on eBay, starting with a pair of French records from a French seller: Barney Wilen, Tilt, Swing 30.058. This is an original pressing from 1957. It is listed in VG+ condition for the record and M- for the cover. The price is in the $400 range with less than two days left, but it has not yet reached the seller’s reserve price. Nice cover, but don’t know the record. Readers? Another one that is quite rare, but unfamiliar to my ears:
Having taken note of what I considered to be the pretty high price on that stereo copy of Giant Steps, and having taken note that it was a listing by the seller bobdjukic, I wandered over to eBay to look at some of the other completed listings of his recent auctions because I am always impressed and somewhat taken aback by the prices he is able to get on most of his jazz vinyl listings. And, while there wasn’t that much jazz in these latest auctions, the prices continue to rise to the occasion, so to speak. Here are a few examples:
Thelonious Monk, Monk’s Dream, Columbia 1965. This is a two-eye pressing that is listed in VG++ condition for the record and VG++ for the cover, although upon close examination of the pictures of the cover it would seem more like a VG+ on my grading system. This one was only listed as “very rare,” but it sold for $127.50, which is significantly more than we typically see for this album.
Duke Ellington at Newport, Columbia 934. This is an original six-eye mono pressing that is in shrink wrap, although, to be fair, they were not actually shrink wrapping records when this came out in 1957.
So here it is — now we have sellers ripping off bobdjukic to make their auctions look like his and, apparently, to try to weave the same brand of black magic that apparently results in insane prices. And perhaps it works. Take a look at this auction: Miles Davis, Kind of Blue, Columbia 1355. It’s not exactly laid out like one of the bobdjukic auctions, but it’s clearly evocative. And the listing starts with the oh-so-familiar phrase “INSANELY RARE” in all caps, of course. This must be the most widely circulated insanely rare record of all time. The record is graded at near mint minus, whatever that means, and the cover is graded at VG+, which seems highly generous given the obvious ring wear on the front cover and the big signature of a previous owner on the back. But despite whatever flaws we may see in the record and/or the listing, it seems to have that black magic sheen to it and the bidding has already surpassed $260. We didn’t think insanity was a contagious condition, but perhaps we were wrong.
Wow, that last post drew quite a compelling discussion. I have yet to listen to that Ted Brown record, but it is definitely on the agenda. In the meantime, there are many interesting records currently for sale on eBay, including:
Jon Eardley Seven with Zoot Sims, Prestige 7033. This is an original New York yellow label pressing. The record is in VG+ condition and the cover is VG++. The start price is in the $300 range and, with nearly three days left in the auction, there are no bidders yet. We would expect this one to sell, but you never know. It is Prestige and not Blue Note, after all.
Kenny Dorham and the Jazz Prophets, ABC Paramount 122. This looks to be an original deep groove pressing. It’s not simple to decipher the condition based on the seller’s description, but I would guess that the record is between VG+ and VG++ and the cover is probably about the same. The start price for this one is $300 and, with less than two days left, there are no bidders.
Speaking of Kenny Dorham:
What are some people thinking? Here’s a listing I decided to watch: Gerry Mulligan, Night Lights, Phillips 600-108. This was a stereo pressing with a promo label. The record was in M- condition and the cover was VG+. If you walked into a store and saw this record for $10 and you didn’t have it, you might buy it. The seller had a start price of $126. Seriously. Not only were there no bids, but only six people looked at the listing and I think three of them were me because I was so incredulous. At least there was free shipping.
Spend 24 hours on eBay and you’ll find dozens of similar examples. The seller of this record have had more than 80 all by himself: Lee Konitz with Warne Marsh, Atlantic 1217. This was an original black label pressing in M- condition for both the record and the cover. A a nice record, to be sure, but a start price of $320? From a seller who calls himself “vinyl realist?” Give him credit, though. He did manage to sell a few records and get top dollar for them.