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!

Jazz Auctions on a Summery Day (in November)

Anos-l1600ther unseasonably warm day in New York – which, at least for me, makes it harder to stay inside after work with a nice whiskey and a stack of jazz records – but I suppose that is the direction we’re headed at this latitude. Meanwhile, here are a few of the things I’ve been watching on eBay (and in keeping with the ‘oddball’ directive):

First up, from our friend bullsite2000 in Italy, is this copy of Illumination! from the Elvin Jones-Jimmy Garrison Sextet. This was an original Impulse! mono pressing from 1963 and was listed as M- for both the record and the cover. It’s a really nice, albeit brief session with Prince Lasha, Sonny Simmons and Charles Davis on reeds and McCoy Tyner on piano. The feel is much more like a Lasha-Simmons date than the music that Jones and Garrison would record later for Impulse! and Blue Note. I picked up a copy about 20 years ago in similar condition for about $5. That’s far less than the whopping $228 it went for here; though we’ve noted the steady climb of Coltrane and Oliver Nelson Impulse! albums, it’s a little uncharacteristic to see these obscure, perhaps also-ran LPs reach similar heights.

The same seller also had a nice-looking example of Booker Ervin’s lone date as a leader for Savoy, Cookin’, which is an album I’ve never owned (though I would like to). I do have his co-leader LP with Bill Barron, The Hot Line, though it’s been a while since it’s been on deck. We’ve certainly seen original pressings of Ervin’s records on Bethlehem and Prestige do some wallet damage before, and the Savoy is seemingly rarer than any of those albums. While I like Ervin, I understand others’ criticism that his albums are relatively interchangeable – nevertheless, that didn’t stop someone from forking over nearly $500 for a copy that was probably VG++ for the record and M- for the cover.

From France, a seller was offering what appeared to be a pristine copy of one of my favorite records, pianist François Tusques’ first session as a leader, titled Free Jazz, on the small label Disques Mouloudji. It’s an excellent and actually rather tightly-arranged 1965 sextet featuring a fine crop of French modern jazz musicians. I thought about getting into the fray just to get a copy with the booklet (that brochure is impressive!), but the price was a little out of my range. From what I understand, only a few came with the brochure, which might’ve been a promotional addition. It ended up selling for $661 and I’m sure the buyer will be happy.

The same seller also had a nice-looking copy of Boston saxophonist Abdul-Hannan’s only recording, titled Awareness and privately released on his imprint The Third World. It’s the first appearance on disc of tenor saxophonist David S. Ware and was recorded in 1968 (with one track from ’71). It’s an interesting, albeit very low fidelity, album and one I’m happy to have in my collection. The record and hand-assembled cover were both probably in VG++ condition, and it sold for a respectable $386. These private-press jazz albums from the ’70s are pretty hard to find, and compared to the stratospheric prices on jazz records from a decade or so earlier, almost seem reasonable.

In any event, happy bidding and happier listening!

M’Boom, John Gordon and Other Rarities from Jazz Record Center

s-l1600Greetings 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 Encuentroon 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…

Updating the $1,000 Bin, Near–$1,000 Bin, and Obscure Bins

LSP10040Another week in the world of collecting jazz records, and the march of Blue Notes cresting or nearing the $1,000-bin continues. It never ceases to amaze me what people will pay for original pressings of modern jazz LPs, though as the ceiling gets (and stays) high, it’s easy to catch oneself saying something like ‘oh, that title only went for $800 – good deal!’

It was pointed out in another thread how much Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage tends to go for these days. The Jazz Record Mart out in Colorado was able to get a whopping $1,500 recently for a mono first pressing in nice condition, which seemed like a fluke. Maybe it was, but the guys over at Atomic Records in Burbank got a cool $815 for a similar copy, which was graded at EX+ for the vinyl and VG++ for the cover. Given my experience with their – and others’ – grading I’d translate that to a strong VG++ all around. It’s a wonderful record, but those mid-60s Blue Note sessions weren’t nearly as collectible a decade ago and it’s interesting to see them fetching so much coin. The smattering of original Blue Notes in my collection are all from the 1960s (or later), mostly purchased when that section of the catalog was more affordable, rather than the always-hot 1500 and early-4000 series.

Speaking of Atomic Records, this copy of Lee Morgan’s Candy cracked the $3,000 bin. It’s not the first time for such a feat, but certainly eye-popping when it happens. It’s a nice, swinging session with Art Taylor’s squeaky hi-hat keeping time, and certainly one of the more desirable early Blue Notes. Atomic grades this as an all around ‘EX’ with light marks; having asked them before about whether an ‘EX’ grade would have marks that click and being politely told I’d be better off staying away, I can’t imagine this record is much better than a VG+. At $3,000+ I hope the winning bidder is happy.

Atomic also has a copy of Tina Brooks’ True Blue – once seen as a Blue Note grail, it seems to pop up every now and then and still does hefty wallet damage. It’s a beautiful record and one I actually wouldn’t mind having in my collection in its original form (only have the Japanese King pressing). That said, it would be hard to get me to plunk down $2,000 for it and with a bit over one day to go, it’s already at $1,300 – although the reserve hasn’t been met. The record is graded EX (or VG+/VG++) and the cover is a nice-looking VG++.

And in the realm of my main interest, bullsite2000 had another interesting round of European jazz albums for sale, although none of them went particularly stratospheric. I was intrigued by this early Finnish LP from saxophonist Esa Pethman; it predates slightly the excellent Christian Schwindt LP, also on Finnish RCA, and is probably a bit more mainstream. Both albums feature early appearances by pianist Heikki Sarmanto, whom astute observers may recognize from a string of excellent semi-electric jazz LPs he recorded in the 1970s for Odeon, and this one also includes reedist Juhani Aaltonen, whose work took a much freer direction some years later. The Pethman LP was graded EX- for the record and VG++ for the very thin cover, which probably translates to an all-around strong VG+. I’d never seen it before and it is presumably quite rare. Perhaps getting it for just shy of $200 is a steal.

Happy Bidding and Happier Listening!

Sixties and Seventies Avant-garde, Duke Jordan, and more on eBay

s-l1600

Well, I guess that the ‘repurposed’ copy of Peckin’ Time that vinyl-house-uk were auctioning was cancelled before things got too out of control, but I suppose that as a seller they have raised a few red flags.

On to more pleasant matters and some of the records that Al and I have been (or are) watching:

First up is a fine Duke Jordan ten-inch on Swing that our friend bullsite2000 had up on the block. Though we’ve seen a copy go recently for nearly $3,000 this one, which was graded M- for the record and about a VG++ for the sleeve, went for ‘only’ just shy of $1,700 (I say ‘only’ because it was actually a better-presented auction). Still a lot of change for a record… the music has been issued on CD (which is what I have) and is quite nice, with Gene Ramey on bass and Lee Abrams on drums.

The same Italian seller also had a number of other nice ten-inch and twelve-inch LPs in the same auction, most of which did pretty well. I’m still surprised at the traction on Oliver Nelson’s Straight Ahead (NJ 8255) in recent months. This copy went for over $400 in M-/M- condition; as I commented at one point, not being overly bowled over by the session I let it go for around $60 (VG+/VG+) several years ago at a friend’s store where I consigned records. Someone was probably pretty happy. It’s gone for nearly $1,000 in the recent past, though perhaps (hopefully?) that was an irregularity.

And in the active category:

Here’s British trumpeter Henry Lowther and his rare Deram LP Child Song. I have the music on CD but would be excited to own the record (ran into a water-damaged copy years ago for cheap, but just couldn’t handle the cover issues). This copy looks to be in nice VG++ condition all around, but will probably end up north of $300. Not bad when one considers what original Blue Note and Prestige LPs go for, but still a commitment. The same seller also has some other really nice-looking 60s and 70s jazz LPs for sale.

Our friend in Brooklyn, nobbyknucks, has a similarly solid (and big) list of 60s and 70s jazz on offer as well. I actually like this LP on Strata-East that bassist Bill Lee put together, though it’s routinely fairly pricey. The vinyl grades at about a VG+ and M- for the sleeve, and with five days to go is already selling for $200 (which is in the ballpark for a clean copy these days).

And how about this classic? When you think about it, $300 for Sonny (Sunny) Murray’s first LP as a leader, with a band featuring Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, Henry Grimes and Lewis Worrell, and released on LeRoi Jones’ (Amiri Baraka’s) own label Jihad, isn’t a bad deal. Most copies I’ve encountered are in pretty rough shape, but the copy for sale here looks nice – about a VG++ all around. The version I have in the racks is a Japanese pressing (with the 7″) but it sure would be nice to have a clean original. The music is sublimely heavy.

Happy bidding, and happier listening!

Insanity Check

Monk2 copyHaving 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.

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Ruminations on Trane and Dizzy

Coltrane JAzzThere’s a new auction from the Jazz Record Center on eBay. I like to watch their auctions, not just because of their sterling reputation as sellers, but also because I often learn something new, or at least recall something I’ve forgotten. For example, John Coltrane, Coltrane Jazz, Atlantic 1354. I have a hard time keeping track of the Atlantic original pressings once they stopped with the black labels, and this is a nice reminder that the original pressing of this record has the red and purple labels. This is the mono pressing, which is always nice to have, although in the case of this record, I typically prefer the stereo pressing. In any case, this one is in M- condition for the record and the cover and has a start price of $75 with no bidders, so far. I’m getting some new equipment this week. I’m thinking about the first record to play and this would be on the list if I had a stereo copy, but I don’t so I’m taking if off the list. Right now I’m thinking perhaps Way Out West or Sonny Rollins Plus Four or perhaps Blue Train.

This one I find really interesting:

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Getting a Boot, Indeed

marty paichSo the other day I’m walking my dog Marty in the neighborhood. Regular readers will recognize Marty as my lucky charm companion on the two collections I’ve bought in the past two years, the Irving Kalus collection and the Bruce M. West collection in Baltimore. We take our normal route up Broadway and turn down 83rd Street towards West End Avenue. The street is lined with tables of people selling all kinds of wares. Lots of junk from their homes, it seems. I stop at the first booth and ask the woman what’s going on. It’s a block association sale, she says. I look down and see a box of records. The first record is a Woody Herman record on Capital. Well, I have to look of course. So there are these Woody Herman and Benny Goodman records and I’m flipping and it seems pretty clear there’s nothing there for me, when all of a sudden I see the record pictured at the right. An original pressing of Marty Paich,I Get a Boot Out of You. I didn’t have my glasses. I couldn’t see the condition. I couldn’t see the price.

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Sealing the Deal, or Not?

PepperA reader sent me a link to this record: Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section, Contemporary 3532. This record looks to be an original pressing in its original seal. It’s always hard to tell with a sealed record, but this one has the red ink on the back and it seems to have original promotional materials from Contemporary within the seal. If it is not an original seal, someone went to great measures to pretend that it was. And, if so, there was a nice payoff. The record sold for $718. Still another existential question: What do you do if you are the buyer of this record? Do you break the seal and actually listen to it? Or do you preserve it on your shelf like a museum item, perhaps the world’s only original pressing of this classic jazz record still in it’s original factory seal 56 years after its original release? I know what I would do. What about you?

 

An Early Prestige, A Few from KD

jonWow, 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:

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