**THIS IS A VINYL LP**
Release Date: 2023
Label: Contemporary Records (Acoustic Sounds Series)
- The Blessing
- The Disguise
- Angel Voice
- When Will The Blues Leave?
- The Sphinx
Craft Recordings and Acoustic Sounds are proud to continue the Contemporary Records Acoustic Sounds series for 2023 with seven album releases from the Contemporary Records catalog, celebrating 70 years of the legendary jazz label. The releases are supervised by Chad Kassem, CEO of Acoustic Sounds, the world’s largest source for audiophile recordings.
Each title, originally engineered by Roy DuNann and/or Howard Holzer, features all-analog mastering from the original tapes by legendary engineer Bernie Grundman (himself a former employee of the label), as well as unsurpassed audiophile pressing on 180-gram vinyl at Quality Record Pressings, presented in a Stoughton Printing old-style tip-on jacket.
The series highlights gems from Contemporary’s extraordinary catalog and features artists who both defined and expanded the sound of West Coast jazz.
Acclaimed alto saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman’s debut album was released by Contemporary Records in September 1958. AllMusic says the album Something Else “shook up the jazz world,” revitalizing the union of blues and jazz and restoring “blues to their ‘classic’ beginnings in African music.”
Coleman was from Texas, but he was in Los Angeles when he got his big break from Lester Koenig at Contemporary Records. Coleman had begun to play with Don Cherry, who would begin recording on the “pocket trumpet” and the great drummer Billy Higgins. For this first set of nine tunes, Coleman also worked with pianist Walter Norris and bassist Don Payne. Pop Matters says: “Well, if you were a jazz fan in 1958, you might have thought that this Coleman kid had taken a poop in his horn and then lit it afire. Such was the reaction of many to this crazy music. Fifty-three years later, the music sounds positively tame — well within the conventions of bebop that ruled the time.”
Founded in 1951 by film producer, screenwriter and record collector Lester Koenig (1917-1977), Contemporary Records became the epicenter of the West Coast jazz scene, while its cutting-edge approach to sound and design attracted some of the era’s most exciting artists. The Contemporary Records Acoustic Sounds series — which launched in the spring of 2022 with titles by Art Pepper, Barney Kessel and Benny Carter, among others — honors the label’s rich legacy through meticulous reissues that highlight the label’s influential classics, as well as its must-hear rarities.
Since its initial rollout, the series has earned accolades from a slew of outlets, including JazzTimes, which spoke to the impact of the label, reflecting: “Artists, producers, and engineers alike have held Contemporary aloft…as a label dedicated to presenting jazz at its absolute purest, richest, and live-est,” adding that the new reissues “are living, breathing proof of that label’s hotly cutting clarity.” Audiophile Review, meanwhile, marveled at the stereo pressing of Art Pepper + Eleven: Modern Jazz Classics, which it called “top-notch,” elaborating that it sounds “richer and more inviting…deliver[ing] a bit more cinemascopic ‘view’ of the group.” Praising Hampton Hawes’ Four! as “pristine,” Audiophile Audition added, “Kudos to Craft Recordings for re-introducing a brilliant pianist.”