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.

One that I’ve posted about before is the rather elusive French Polydor recording by Marion Brown for the soundtrack to a Marcel Camus film. The LP is titled Le Temps Fou and features fine playing from Brown, Gunter Hampel, Barre Phillips, Steve McCall, Ambrose Jackson and others. It does have one somewhat funky track but most of the record is pure late Sixties improvised music. A seller in Germany had one, which went for $1,005, a hefty price given that the cover was a little iffy at EX–, or a weak VG+ (with some notable damage), and the LP was probably about the same. Hope the buyer is happy.

The same seller had a number of nice LPs that you don’t see on eBay very much, including this bootleg double LP compilation from the International Holy Hill Jazz Meeting held in 1969 near Heidelberg. There are some wonderful performances contained therein by Peter Brötzmann, the Rolf + Joachim Kühn Quartet, Joki Freund, Pierre Favre, and others. I’ve been after a copy for years but I’ve either not set my bid quite high enough or the condition was off. Both issues had me out of the running, with the cool-looking cover in probably VG condition and the LPs in VG+ or so with some edge warp. Nevertheless the set ended at a relatively average price of $500.

The seller also had a copy of this oddball record, The Chitinous Ensemble, directed by cellist-composer Paul Buckmaster (Third Ear Band, Miles Davis, The Grateful Dead), and an odd bit of string-heavy and Eastern-influenced UK jazz-rock featuring Ian Carr. The original LP was released on Deram in presumably rather small quantities in 1971 (luckily there’s a nice CD version on Vocalion). With the LP probably in VG++ condition or so and the cover in a decent VG+ from the looks of things, it closed in just shy of $500.

At any rate, happy collecting and even happier listening!

21 comments

  • Thanks Clifford. If this kinda money is out there, I need to pay better attention during my crate digging expeditions and not be so focused on finding BN Holy Grails. And any record titled Chitinous Ensemble with a bunch of cockroaches on the cover certainly deserves $500 in my book. The anti-cheesecake marketing approach I guess.

  • I owned the “holy hill” 2LP many years ago; the recording quality is quite poor so I got rid of it.

    The Takayanagi is probably one of the last “biggies” I am after but there’s no way I’m dropping over $1000 for it!

  • I like these posts too, the road less travelled and all that.

  • Thanks folks — yeah, I know the Holy Hill sounds rough but that doesn’t keep me from being after it! I tend to like weird European free jazz bootlegs (JG Records, etc.). Plus the back cover image is pretty out there.

    Indeed, much beyond BN, Prestige and Savoy in terms of collecting though I suppose these records are pretty far from hard bop…

  • The ‘Chitinous’ cover is unlaminated thin card so ‘VG+’ is probably about as good as it gets. The big question I guess is whether Buckmaster brought a copy over to NYC to play to Miles before the ‘On The Corner’ session.

  • I bet you have a copy, don’t you, sidewinder?

  • Haha the back cover image on holy hill was probably the strongest pull for me to hang onto it back then!

  • Richard – Yes, I have the ‘Chitinous’ on LP. Vocalion did a good job with the CD too. Pretty nice sounding LP, strangely enough there seem to be way more of them out there in Germany, France and Scandinavia etc. than there ever were in the UK. Love that cover art !

  • Sidewinder – you have all the expensive British records! Yes, it’s a great cover. I had a brief listen on Youtube – quite enjoyed it.

  • I’m with DaveS. I sometimes wonder how many expensive albums I’ve flip past while digging.

  • i adore that marion brown album. one of my early free jazz favorites.

  • @Gregory the Fish — me too, just have a CD-R of it alas.

  • The Chitinous Ensemble, is a great LP. Really Silly, but I thought this was my little secret!
    (strange how we do that!)
    So Glad we are talking about such interesting cuts.
    Those Vocation reissues (also Vinyl on some cuts) are getting very difficult to find in the UK.
    Good post Clifford.

  • Sidewinder, surely you are not suggesting Miles Dewey Davis III took some influence from Dumfries’s own Ian Carr? 😉

  • He seems to have really liked the Carr bio, from what I’ve heard. As for influence – at least in terms of jazz-rock – I believe Miles heard Henry Lowther playing in this style in the 1960s before the transition from acoustic so my vote goes to Henry !

  • Let’s also not forget that he was quick to add John Mclaughlin to his ensemble which helped solidify the brit jazz rock association in Miles’ late 60s-early 70s band. The sound changes considerably when JM enters the scene. The guitar work on In a Silent Way is absolutely incredible.

  • Regarding Miles and the Chitinous Ensemble. I produced jazz concerts for 25 years and maybe 8 years ago or so presented Dave Liebman. As part of our shows we would usually have a presentation or show a film that was connected to the artist in some way as a pre-show event. For Dave I decided to do a talk on Miles and the On The Corner > He Loved Him Madly period given Dave’s key role in that era. I was curious about the whole Buckmaster connection and got the Chitinous album. Researching the timeline I discovered that Miles was hanging out with Buckmaster (in England if I recall) at time when Miles would almost certainly have heard the album. Liebman came out to hear my talk (a bit daunting) and when I played some Chitinous tracks Dave got excited and joined me onstage for the rest of the talk. Really cool to hear him describe being in the studio when they recorded the He Loved Him Madly track. At any rate, Dave was pretty certain Miles had heard the record and had been directly influenced by it. I gave him a copy and he even called me up the next day while he was driving home to say thanks and “you learn something new every day.” So at least from Liebman’s inside perspective, the Chitinous record played a role in shaping Miles’ direction at the time.

  • Thanks for that, Bruce — fascinating! I knew Buckmaster was pretty close with Miles but wasn’t sure if the latter had heard the Chitinous record.

  • Just also to mention that Tony Hall, who is credited on the ‘Chitinous’ LP as manager of Buckmaster, was a personal friend of Miles – which is how they got to meet, if my memory of this story is correct.

  • I just bought a clean copy of the Chitinous for $300 – bargain! 😉

  • Bruce, what a facinating development!
    I love joining these dots…
    thanks a bunch for the contribution

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