Gift Guide

The Contemporary Records Story

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
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...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
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 à 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 André 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, André 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.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/25/2004
  • Label: Contemporary
  • UPC: 025218444125
  • Catalog Number: 4441
  • Sales rank: 224,048


Disc 1
  1. 1 Big Girl - Lighthouse All-Stars (3:07)
  2. 2 Viva Zapata! - Lighthouse All-Stars (8:14)
  3. 3 You and the Night and the Music - Shelly Manne (3:09)
  4. 4 Lullaby of Birdland - Barney Kessel (3:10)
  5. 5 Bags' Groove - Lighthouse All-Stars (3:14)
  6. 6 Day by Day - Lennie Niehaus (3:39)
  7. 7 Flip - Shelly Manne (2:59)
  8. 8 Billie's Bounce - Shelly Manne (4:10)
  9. 9 The Champ (5:26)
  10. 10 Blues the Most (5:45)
  11. 11 Blue Moon (3:01)
  12. 12 Easy Terms (4:14)
  13. 13 Collard Greens and Black-Eyed Peas - Shelly Manne (7:57)
  14. 14 Ruby - Buddy Collette (3:51)
  15. 15 I Could Have Danced All Night - Shelly Manne (3:01)
  16. 16 A Fifth for Frank - Curtis Counce (7:11)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Serenade in Blue - Gerald Wiggins (4:03)
  2. 2 All the Things You Are - Art Pepper (6:35)
  3. 3 Star Eyes - Art Pepper (5:16)
  4. 4 Paying the Dues Blues - Red Norvo (4:56)
  5. 5 I'm an Old Cowhand - Sonny Rollins (5:43)
  6. 6 Jordu (3:31)
  7. 7 Scrapple from the Apple - Red Mitchell (5:33)
  8. 8 Old Fashioned Love - Benny Carter (7:50)
  9. 9 On the Sunny Side of the Street - Leroy Vinnegar (5:38)
  10. 10 Whisper Not - Benny Golson (5:59)
  11. 11 I Could Write a Book - André Previn & His Pals (4:54)
  12. 12 Grooveyard - Harold Land (7:07)
  13. 13 Serpent's Tooth - Victor Feldman (3:26)
  14. 14 Invisible - Ornette Coleman (4:13)
Disc 3
  1. 1 Hip - Hampton Hawes (6:17)
  2. 2 Stablemates - Art Farmer (4:35)
  3. 3 African Violets (5:14)
  4. 4 Autumn in New York - André Previn (3:54)
  5. 5 I've Told Ev'ry Little Star - Sonny Rollins (5:25)
  6. 6 Someone to Watch Over Me - Benny Carter (2:40)
  7. 7 Bill Bailey - Helen Humes (2:24)
  8. 8 Peter Gunn - Shelly Manne (2:16)
  9. 9 Barfly - Elmo Hope (6:18)
  10. 10 Greensleeves - Bill Smith (5:03)
  11. 11 Airegin - Art Pepper (3:02)
  12. 12 Down Among the Sheltering Palms - Barney Kessel (4:05)
  13. 13 Blue Daniel - Shelly Manne (8:36)
  14. 14 Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise - Art Pepper (6:59)
  15. 15 The Sermon - Teddy Edwards Quartet (7:02)
Disc 4
  1. 1 Stardust - Ben Webster (11:12)
  2. 2 Misty (4:20)
  3. 3 Summertime - Howard McGhee (3:16)
  4. 4 Oleo - Phineas Newborn Jr. (3:05)
  5. 5 Exodus - Shelly Manne (4:38)
  6. 6 A Deed for Dolphy (9:00)
  7. 7 My Funny Valentine - Art Farmer (6:56)
  8. 8 Morning - Hampton Hawes (7:31)
  9. 9 Will You Still Be Mine? - Art Farmer (5:41)
  10. 10 Beyond the Rain - Chico Freeman (3:30)
  11. 11 Love Walked In - Ray Brown (5:25)
  12. 12 Over the Rainbow - Art Pepper (6:47)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
James Cleveland Trombone
Gary Bartz Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone
Frank Butler Drums
George Cables Piano
Conte Candoli Trumpet
James Clay Flute
Buddy Collette Flute, Tenor Saxophone
Bob Cooper English Horn, Oboe, Tenor Saxophone, Soloist
Curtis Counce Bass
Art Farmer Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Victor Feldman Piano, Violin, Vibes
Maynard Ferguson Trumpet
Chico Freeman Flute, Tenor Saxophone
Russ Freeman Piano
Red Garland Piano
Herb Geller Alto Saxophone
Jimmy Giuffre Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Soloist
Joe Gordon Trumpet
Gigi Gryce Alto Saxophone
Jim Hall Guitar
Louis Hayes Drums
Earl Hines Piano
Bill Holman Tenor Saxophone
Helen Humes Vocals
Elvin Jones Drums
Hank Jones Piano
Philly Joe Jones Drums
Sam Jones Bass
Richie Kamuca Tenor Saxophone
Wynton Kelly Piano
Barney Kessel Guitar
Harold Land Tenor Saxophone
Shelly Manne Drums, Soloist
Bennie Maupin Bass Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone
Red Mitchell Bass
Walter Norris Piano
Red Norvo Vibes
Art Pepper Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone
André Previn Piano
Max Roach Drums
Sonny Rollins Tenor Saxophone
Jimmy Rowles Piano
Hilton Ruiz Piano
Howard Rumsey Bass
Bud Shank Flute, Alto Flute
Woody Shaw Trumpet
Cecil Taylor Piano
Cedar Walton Piano
Julius Watkins French Horn
Ben Webster Tenor Saxophone
Gerald Wiggins Piano, Trumpet
Gerald Wilson Trumpet
Harry Babasin Bass
Ronnie Ball Piano
Joe Castro Piano
Bob Enevoldsen Trombone, Valve Trombone
Lorraine Geller Piano
Clint Houston Bass
Stan Levey Drums
Abe Most Clarinet
Lennie Niehaus Alto Saxophone
Arnold Ross Piano
Ed Thigpen Drums
Al Viola Guitar
Lenny White Drums
Claude Williamson Piano
Stu Williamson Trumpet
Max Albright Drums
Jack Marshall Guitar
Lyle "Spud" Murphy Celeste
Howard McGhee Trumpet
Shorty Rogers Trumpet, Soloist
Jimmy Cobb Drums
Tony Bazley Drums
Milt Bernhart Trombone, Soloist
Ray Brown Bass
Monty Budwig Bass
Red Callender Bass
Ornette Coleman Alto Saxophone
Joe Comfort Bass
Jack Dumont Alto Saxophone
Teddy Edwards Tenor Saxophone
Rolf Ericson Trumpet
Addison Farmer Bass
Gary Frommer Drums
Benny Golson Tenor Saxophone
Jewell L. Grant Baritone Saxophone
Earl Griffith Vibes
Hampton Hawes Piano
Roy Haynes Drums
Jack Sheldon Trumpet
Scott LaFaro Bass
Joe Maini Alto Saxophone
Marty Paich Piano, Conductor
Jack Montrose Tenor Saxophone
Buell Neidlinger Bass
Phineas Newborn Jr. Piano
Frank Patchen Piano, Soloist
Don Payne Bass
Ralph Pena Bass
Charlie Persip Drums
Frank Rosolino Trombone
Jumma Santos Percussion
Sahib Shihab Baritone Saxophone
Chuck Thompson Drums
Ben Tucker Bass
Carlos Vidal Conga, Soloist
Leroy Vinnegar Bass
Jimmy Bond Bass
Jackie Mills Drums
Joseph Eger French Horn
Russ Cheever Soprano Saxophone
Wayne Marsh Tenor Saxophone
Ernie Freeman Combo Piano
Don Cherry & Ed Blackwell Trumpet
Bill Airey Smith Clarinet
Technical Credits
George Gershwin Composer
Sigmund Romberg Composer
Henry Mancini Arranger, Composer
Hoagy Carmichael Composer
Miles Davis Composer
Victor Feldman Arranger
Chico Freeman Composer
Erroll Garner Composer
Jimmy Giuffre Composer
Elmo Hope Arranger, Composer
Milt Jackson Composer
James P. Johnson Composer
Duke Jordan Composer
Harold Land Arranger
Shelly Manne Composer
Oscar Pettiford Composer
Sonny Rollins Composer
Woody Shaw Composer
George Shearing Composer
Cecil Taylor Composer
Gerald Wiggins Composer
Matt Dennis Composer
Lennie Niehaus Composer
Bill Russo Arranger
Jimmy McHugh Composer
Lyle "Spud" Murphy Arranger
Duane Tatro Arranger, Composer
Harold Arlen Composer
Richard Rodgers Composer
David Axelrod Producer
Vernon Duke Composer
Shorty Rogers Arranger, Composer
Carl Perkins Composer
Jerome Kern Composer
Johnny Burke Composer
Sammy Cahn Composer
Ornette Coleman Composer
Gene DePaul Composer
Howard Dietz Composer
Roy DuNann Engineer
Nesuhi Ertegun Producer
Dorothy Fields Composer
Ira Gershwin Composer
Ernest Gold Composer
Benny Golson Composer
Mack Gordon Composer
Earl Griffith Composer
Oscar Hammerstein II Composer
Hampton Hawes Composer
E.Y. "Yip" Harburg Composer
Lorenz Hart Composer
Nat Hentoff Producer
Howard Holzer Engineer
John Koenig Producer, Engineer
Lester Koenig Producer, Engineer
Alan Jay Lerner Composer
Marty Paich Arranger
Johnny Mercer Composer
Ronnie Olsen Engineer
John Palladino Engineer
Mitchell Parish Composer
Charlie Parker Composer
Don Raye Composer
Frank Rosolino Composer
Arthur Schwartz Composer
Bob Simpson Engineer
Axel Stordahl Composer
Val Valentin Engineer
Harry Warren Composer
George David Weiss Composer
Paul Weston Composer
Dave Wiechman Engineer
Frederick Loewe Composer
Jamie Putnam Art Direction
Ralph Kaffel Producer
Tommy Nola Engineer
Richard Simpson Engineer
DuBose Heyward Composer
Lewis Merritt Engineer
Art Becker Engineer
Tom Adair Composer
Cecil Mack Composer
Heinz Roemheld Composer
James Brockman Composer
Richard S. Ginell Liner Notes
Tom Brown Engineer
Traditional Composer
Robert D. Kirstein Producer
Bill Airey Smith Arranger
Abe Olman Composer
Cecil Charles Engineer
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