Today’s Rarity: Eric Dolphy on the FM Label

I’m always looking for information on records I see on eBay that I haven’t seen before, either online or in real life. I’ve been collecting jazz records for more than 35 years and have spent thousands of hours poring through record stores all over the U.S. and in parts of Europe, yet I still come across items that are new to me. Here’s one from eBay the other day: Eric Dolphy, Conversations, FM 308. This was a sealed Stereo pressing sold by Atomic Records for $317.90. It had five separate bidders and was sold to ondemand12, one of the big eBay jazz buyers.For more information on this album, I consulted The Jazz Discography by Tom Lord.  I have Version 3.3. on CD-ROM. It’s a valuable tool if you’re looking for historical information or to accurately find out sidemen on just about every track in jazz history. You can contact them directly at and please tell them that you heard about the Discography at Jazz Collector.

 Anyway, as far as I can tell, the music is from a few sessions in New York in June or July of 1963, about a year before he died in Berlin on June 29, 1964. FM was a small label: I also have a couple of Chris Connor LPs, but not that much more. Interestingly, if you look at the liner notes for Out To Lunch, Blue Note 4163, you’ll note that it states: “Eric Dolphy performs courtesy of FM Records.”

 Anyway, this FM record is also known as Iron Man and is available on CD. Players include Woody Shaw, Clifford Jordan, Sonny Simmons, Prince Lasha, Bobby Hutcherson, Richard Davis, Eddie Kahn, Charles Moffett and J.C. Moses. According to The Penguin Guide To Jazz on CD, these recordings were “unattractively packaged and of less than pristine sound quality. They are, however, key works, paving the way towards his great late masterpiece and important in setting him in larger-than-usual ensembles.”

 So now, having done all of this research, yes I do know this record: The music was issued on Everest Records with no descriptions of the musicians and no indication of where it came from. I’ve had the record for years and always liked it. Great music, particularly the version of Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz.” Now I can begin my hunt for the original but, hopefully, not for $317.90.

See you tomorrow with a full newsletter. — Al

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