Rare European Jazz on eBay: Meinert, Pelzer and 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

The Stratospheric Avant-garde on eBay – Bid or Buy

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.

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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).

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!

Later Blue Notes, a Sun Ra rarity, and Marion Brown’s finest (?) on eBay

Gres-l1600etings 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!

Tracking Obscure Jazz Vinyl on eBay

_12Greetings, 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!

Checking Out the Avant-garde Jazz Listings on eBay

s-l1600It 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!

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

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!

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!

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