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!

14 comments

  • Clifford I was waiting for your post on this one! I agree the “creator spaces” album is the strongest and thankfully the cheapest to obtain. Think I paid less then $100 for my NM copy. Don’t think I’ll ever find the Cosmic for what you paid for your copy but that’s okay; can’t have them all!

    I was watching those SME titles as well; no point in chasing those when the reissue CDs sound so good though I think.

    But man – $2000 for the cosmic..that’s like double the price of the last copy which sold on eBay. Crazy.

  • yeah, I agree Mark – really high, though a few copies have gone for around $1800 (at least one off-eBay though, so it probably doesn’t count here). My Cosmic was certainly nowhere near this much and I think I paid $40 for my Musra (which is clean). Indeed, you can’t have ’em all and I gotta remind myself of that sometimes!

  • Clifford – thanks for these posts. While I’m not interested in many avant records, it’s still really cool to learn about.

  • Nice stuff Clifford. Sold my Cosmic for $1500.00 off eBay some time last year to buy a Martin Magna tenor sax. Figured both buyer of lp and I were happy. Felt Musra lp was stronger of two.
    Never got the other two, orchestra one and drummers lp. Been looking for a while.
    Have the Sami lp, picked it up, autographed copy, from Jazz Record Center auction a few years back. Played with him in Chicago way back in the day.
    The Kees Hazevoet lp ‘ Unlawful Noise’ is also definitely out there.
    Re Sami, another great lp is from a group out of Cleveland, Black Unity Trio, “Al-Fatihah” on the Salaam label, think recorded around 1968, with Abdul Wadud on cello, Yusek Mumim, alto and Haasan-Al-hut, perc. This is cold, hard stuff, it burns, and well worth searching for. I turned up two copies over forty years of digging.
    Sorry to be so wordy, it’s nice to speak with others who are “out there.”

  • Hi Lenni…

    The Black Unity Trio album is indeed an amazing album; it’s my personal favorite private American free jazz album of all the ones I’ve heard or have owned. I lucked out on a strong VG+ copy(cleaned up to sound almost NM) for only $125 a few years back..it usually sells in the $1000 range!

  • Hello back at you Mark. Agree re Black Unity. It’s possibly, to my ears, the best example of the fire of that era. ( Like Ayler, out of Cleveland!) All the energy, anger, frustration of the times. Like the cover of that Shepp Dixon lp which has Shepp standing in front of window in bleak looking apartment, those days were of intensity in music and a revolutionary spirit in the air.

  • Clifford et all: is anyone familiar with a modal private set out of MA on Despa, titled Elysian Fields? Really beautiful stuff, but rare as all get out. Shows up on ebay once or twice in a blue moon.

  • Say it ain’t so! A NON Blue note for big bucks? No Rudy, no ear, no way! What gives?

  • I like these non-Blue Note posts, it’s interesting to see what else is out there (out there – see what I did?)

  • yay! free jazz!

    any lovers of ndikho xaba, kings in exile, etc out there?

  • Oh yeah, the ZA stuff is amazing — although Plunky being part of Xaba’s group makes me think of it as more of a Juju offshoot. But I’m not as well versed in that group’s history as some are.

    Couldn’t get into the Elysian stuff when I heard it years ago but may try again if I find it for a less-than-insane price. And yes, Black Unity Trio is a wonderful record — would love to have an OG of it but have never been able to score one (or passed on the abused copies that pop up).

    Being a fan of the Euro-skronk, Unlawful Noise is an essential blast. It’s a room-clearer and the jacket artwork is also wonderful.

  • Thanks for the post. Love learning about new albums. I listened to The Creator Spaces on youtube and really enjoyed it. Any good place to get reissues of this stuff?

  • Some of Creator Spaces is on that new Boston Creative Jazz Scene comp that Cultures of Soul put out last month, which also features music by Mark Harvey, Stanton Davis, and Arni Cheatham.

  • Ordered. Thanks for the heads up.

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