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The Contemporary Records Story [Box]


  • 0. DISC 1:
    1. Big Girl - Lighthouse All-Stars
    2. Viva Zapata! - Lighthouse All-Stars (live)
    3. You and the Night and the Music - Shelly Manne
    4. Lullaby of Birdland - Barney Kessel
    5. Bags' Groove - Lighthouse All-Stars
    6. Day by Day - Lennie Niehaus
    7. Flip - Shelly Manne
    8. Billie's Bounce - Shelly Manne
    9. Champ, The - Hampton Hawes Trio
    10. Blues the Most - Hampton Hawes Trio
    11. Blue Moon - Lyle "Spud" Murphy
    12. Easy Terms - Duane Tatro
    13. Collard Greens and Black-Eyed Peas - Shelly Manne
    14. Ruby - Buddy Collette
    15. I Could Have Danced All Night - Shelly Manne
    16. Fifth for Frank, A - Curtis Counce
    0. DISC 2:
    1. Serenade in Blue - Gerald Wiggins
    2. All the Things You Are - Art Pepper
    3. Star Eyes - Art Pepper
    4. Paying the Dues Blues - Red Norvo
    5. I'm an Old Cowhand - Sonny Rollins
    6. Jordu - The Poll Winners
    7. Scrapple From the Apple - Red Mitchell
    8. Old Fashioned Love - Benny Carter
    9. On the Sunny Side of the Street - Leroy Vinnegar
    10. Whisper Not - Benny Golson
    11. I Could Write a Book - Andr Previn & His Pals
    12. Grooveyard - Harold Land
    13. Serpent's Tooth - Victor Feldman
    14. Invisible - Ornette Coleman
    0. DISC 3:
    1. Hip - Hampton Hawes
    2. Stablemates - Art Farmer
    3. African Violets - Cecil Taylor Quartet
    4. Autumn in New York - Andr Previn
    5. I've Told Ev'ry Little Star - Sonny Rollins
    6. Someone to Watch over Me - Benny Carter
    7. Bill Bailey - Helen Humes
    8. Peter Gunn - Shelly Manne
    9. Barfly - Elmo Hope
    10. Greensleeves - Bill Smith
    11. Airegin - Art Pepper
    12. Down Among the Sheltering Palms - Barney Kessel
    13. Blue Daniel - Shelly Manne
    14. Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise - Art Pepper
    15. Sermon, The - Teddy Edwards Quartet
    0. DISC 4:
    1. Stardust - Ben Webster
    2. Misty - Teddy Edwards
    3. Summertime - Howard McGhee
    4. Oleo - Phineas Newborn, Jr.
    5. Exodus - Shelly Manne
    6. Deed for Dolphy, A - Woody Shaw
    7. My Funny Valentine - Art Farmer
    8. Morning - Hampton Hawes
    9. Will You Still Be Mine? - Art Farmer
    10. Beyond the Rain - Chico Freeman
    11. Love Walked In - Ray Brown
    12. Over the Rainbow - Art Pepper
    Read More...
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 4441

  • Credits
    ProducerDavid Axelrod; Robert D. Kirstein; John Koenig; Lester Koenig; Nat Hentoff; Nesuhi Ertegun; Ralph Kaffel
    EngineerDave Weichman; Cecil Charles; Howard Holzer; Tom Brown; Art Becker; Ronnie Olsen; John Koenig; John Palladino; Lester Koenig; Lewis Merritt; Richard Simpson; Roy DuNann; Tommy Nola; Val Valentin; Bob Simpson

    Personnel: Helen Humes (vocals); Jack Marshall, Jim Hall, Al Viola, Barney Kessel (guitar); Victor Feldman (violin, piano, vibraphone); Bud Shank (flute, alto flute); Chico Freeman, Buddy Collette (flute, tenor saxophone); James Clay (flute); Jimmy Giuffre (clarinet, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); Bill Airey Smith, Abe Most (clarinet); Bennie Maupin (bass clarinet, tenor saxophone); Bob Cooper (oboe, English horn, tenor saxophone); Gary Bartz (soprano saxophone, alto saxophone); Russ Cheever (soprano saxophone); Art Pepper (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Gigi Gryce, Herb Geller, Jack Dumont, Joe Maini, Lennie Niehaus, Ornette Coleman (alto saxophone); Harold Land, Wayne Marsh, Jack Montrose, Richie Kamuca, Sonny Rollins, Teddy Edwards, Ben Webster, Benny Golson, Bill Holman (tenor saxophone); Jewell L. Grant, Sahib Shihab (baritone saxophone); Art Farmer (trumpet, flugelhorn); Gerald Wiggins (trumpet, piano); Conte Candoli, Don Cherry & Ed Blackwell, Gerald Wilson, Howard McGhee, Jack Sheldon, Joe Gordon, Maynard Ferguson, Rolf Ericson, Shorty Rogers, Stu Williamson , Woody Shaw (trumpet); Joseph Eger, Julius Watkins (French horn); Bob Enevoldsen (trombone, valve trombone); Milt Bernhart, Frank Rosolino, James Cleveland (trombone); Lorraine Geller, Claude Williamson, Ernie Freeman Combo, Frank Patchen, George Cables, Hampton Hawes, Hank Jones , Hilton Ruiz, Jimmy Rowles, Joe Castro , Marty Paich, Andr Previn , Phineas Newborn, Jr., Red Garland, Ronnie Ball, Russ Freeman , Arnold Ross, Walter Norris, Wynton Kelly, Cecil Taylor, Cedar Walton, Earl Hines (piano); Lyle "Spud" Murphy (celesta); Earl Griffith, Red Norvo (vibraphone); Chuck Thompson, Ed Thigpen, Elvin Jones, Frank Butler, Gary Frommer, Tony Bazley, Jackie Mills, Max Albright, Jimmy Cobb , Lenny White, Louis Hayes, Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones, Roy Haynes, Shelly Manne, Stan Levey, Charlie Persip (drums); Carlos Vidal (congas); Jumma Santos (percussion).
    Liner Note Author: Richard S. Ginell.
    Recording information: A&R Studios, New York, NY (06/22/1952-07/28/1977); Black Hawk, San Francisco, CA (06/22/1952-07/28/1977); Comtemporary Studios, Los Angeles, CA (06/22/1952-07/28/1977); Irvine Bowl, Laguna Beach, CA (06/22/1952-07/28/1977); New York, NY (06/22/1952-07/28/1977); Nola's Penthouse Studio, New York, NY (06/22/1952-07/28/1977); Radio Recorders Studio B, Los Angeles, CA (06/22/1952-07/28/1977); Renaissance, Hollywood, CA (06/22/1952-07/28/1977); The Lighthouse, Hermosa Beach, CA (06/22/1952-07/28/1977); Village Vanguard, New York, NY (06/22/1952-07/28/1977).
    Photographers: Rob Avery; Bret Lopez; Ricardo Marenco; Bill Maris; Cecil Charles; Roger Marshutz; William Claxton.
    Arrangers: Victor Feldman; Bill Airey Smith; Duane Tatro; Elmo Hope; Harold Land; Henry Mancini; Lyle "Spud" Murphy; Marty Paich; Shorty Rogers; Bill Russo.
    Usually, jazz label retrospectives -- particularly those issued as multiple-disc boxes -- are very mixed affairs. At least with one disc the listener knows upfront that there is a boatload of stuff missing. But these affairs can be wrenching exercises for jazz fans because of idiosyncratic, subjective selection by producers. The four-disc Contemporary Records Story issued by Fantasy is, happily, one of the exceptions. The ultrafastidious jazz fanatic Les Koenig (pronounced KAY-NIG) founded and operated the Contemporary label from 1952 until his death in 1977. A Dartmouth and Yale law graduate, he had been working as a screenwriter and as an assistant and co-producer to William Wyler in Hollywood. He was blacklisted during the McCarthy era because he was unwilling to testify in front of the House of Un-American Activities Committee. He began producing sessions for the JazzMan label before founding his own Good Time Jazz imprint. Contemporary was an offshoot of the classic jazz-centric Good Time trademark, but it quickly took over. The four CDs contained here follow, essentially, a chronological unfolding of Contemporary's offerings. And while the label continues to issue recordings, the set is concerned with the catalog as it was created and left by Koenig. Disc One is an amazing testament to West Coast jazz beginning with the two cuts "Big Girl," from Volume Three, and "Viva Zapata," from Sunday Jazz la Lighthouse, from Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars, which showcases, among its ranks, Maynard Ferguson, Jimmy Giuffre, Shorty Rogers, Shelly Manne, Barney Kessel, and Bob Cooper. There is another Lighthouse All-Stars track here, a radical yet legendary read of Milt Jackson's "Bag's Groove" from 1954, which features Max Roach sitting in on drums, and a frontline consisting of Bud Shank on flutes, and Bob Cooper playing flute and oboe. Other artists on the disc are a who's who of jazz greats: Shelly Manne (who had a young saxophonist in his band named Art Pepper), Hampton Hawes, Lennie Niehaus, Buddy Collette, and even Duane Tatro and Lyle Murphy. But the disc ends with a burning new direction for West Coast jazz as the Curtis Counce group burns down the house with "A Fifth for Frank," with Carl Perkins, Jack Sheldon, Harold Land, and Frank Butler hard bopping the hell out of the blues.
    Disc Two begins to show the outlying directions Koenig was interested in with the music, from trio dates by Gerald Wiggins to early solo sides by Pepper and Red Norvo to Sonny Rollins (from his Way Out West LP). Leroy Vinnegar and Benny Golson make appearances, but so do Andr Previn and Ornette Coleman (whose first recordings were for Contemporary). This is the kind of vision Koenig had, to be able to put all these talents on one label and nurture them all. The sequencing is astonishingly tight and seamless on all four discs, but discs two and three, in particular, play like a dream. And speaking of Disc Three, the Hampton Hawes Quartet's amazing For Real! session from 1958 with Harold Land -- another hard bopper in his own right featured on the label -- Scott LaFaro and Butler are referenced as the disc opener. This has to be the only place on earth where Benny Carter, Shelly Manne, Cecil Taylor, Teddy Edwards, Elmo Hope, Pepper, Andr Previn, and Helen Humes would appear in the same collection. Disc Four begins in 1969 and follows albums by Ben Webster, Phineas Newborn Jr., Woody Shaw, Art Farmer, Chico Freeman, and Ray Brown, as well as Manne, Art Farmer, and Pepper, whose solo rendition of Harold Arlen's "Over the Rainbow," from the complete Live at the Village Vanguard, closes this collection. When one tolls the leaders and sidemen here, and takes into account the multi-dimensional and directional music here, all on one label, produced by one man, and articulated over 25 years, one has a portrait of a well-known but undercelebrated American institution and jazz monolith. Combine the selection with the design, featuring complete session notes, rare photographs, and a very fine historical essay by Richard S. Ginell, and one has one of most beautifully assembled and historically essential label box sets ever. ~ Thom Jurek

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