Contemporary Records

Last updated
Contemporary Records
Parent company Concord Bicycle Music
Founded1951 (1951)
Founder Lester Koenig
Defunct1984 (1984)
Country of originU.S.
Official website

Contemporary Records was a jazz record company and label founded by Lester Koenig in Los Angeles in 1951. Contemporary produced music from a variety of jazz styles and players. [1]


West Coast players

Contemporary became identified with a style of jazz called West Coast jazz as exemplified by Art Pepper, Chet Baker, Shelly Manne, and André Previn. [1]

In the mid 1960s the company fell into relative limbo, but limited new recordings were made in the late 1970s, including a series of albums by Art Pepper recorded at the Village Vanguard club in New York. After Les Koenig's death in 1977, the label was run for seven years by his son, [1] John, who produced albums by George Cables, Joe Farrell, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Peter Erskine, and Chico Freeman.

In 1984 Contemporary was purchased by Fantasy Records, which used the name for a short time. Most Contemporary titles were reissued by Fantasy. Also, some titles have found new life among today's audiophiles as high-quality LP remasters from Analogue Productions and other audiophile labels. The Fantasy catalog, including Contemporary and its associated labels, Good Time Jazz Records, Society for Forgotten Music, and Contemporary Composers Series, was sold to Concord Records in 2004.

Over the years, a number of major figures in the music business worked for Contemporary. Among them were Atlantic Records executive Nesuhi Ertegun, writers Nat Hentoff and Leonard Feather, producer Joe Boyd, recording engineer and studio designer Howard Holzer, and mastering engineer Bernie Grundman.


Koenig maintained high audio standards.[ citation needed ] He hired Roy DuNann from Capitol Records in 1956, who, out of the label's shipping room turned studio, turned out some of the best sounding records of the time.[ citation needed ] DuNann provided some details of his techniques in a Stereophile article nearly 50 years later.[ citation needed ] He said Koenig provided him with German (Neumann/Telefunken U-47) and Austrian (AKG C-12) condenser microphones and he immediately noted the very high output of these microphones, especially close-in on jazz musicians' dynamic playing. DuNann achieved his signature soundcrisp, clear and balanced without distortion or unpleasant "peak presence"by keeping his microphone setups very simple (generally one per musician) and avoided the use of pre-amplifiers for them.

He built a simple passive mixing system that directly fed the electronics of his Ampex 350 and 351 tape machines. Also, DuNann told Stereophile that Contemporary sessions were recorded "dry" (without electronic echo added or in a reverberant room). Sometimes, such as in the case of Sonny Rollins' Way Out West , a plate reverb unit was inserted between the tape machine and the LP disc cutting lathe. This is why some later LP and CD reissues of Contemporary albums sound "dry" and "dead" compared to the original LPs mastered by DuNann.


Contemporary 3500/7500 series

The 3500 (mono)/7500 (stereo) series of 12 inch LP records commenced in 1955 and ran until 1961. [2] Contemporary was the first jazz label to record albums in stereo from 1956. [3]

3501 Howard Rumsey 's Lighthouse All-StarsSunday Jazz a la Lighthouse, Vol. 1
3502 Lionel Hampton He Swings the Most
3503 Lennie Niehaus Vol 3: The Octet #2
3504Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-StarsHoward Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars Vol. 6
3505 Hampton Hawes Trio Hampton Hawes Trio
3506 Lyle Murphy 12-Tone Compositions and Arrangements by Lyle Murphy
3507 Shelly Manne & His Men The West Coast Sound
3508Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-StarsHoward Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars Vol. 3
3509Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars/Barney Kessel/Hampton Hawes Trio with Shelly ManneLighthouse at Laguna
3510Lennie NiehausVol 4: The Quintets & Strings
3511 Barney Kessel Easy Like
3512Barney Kessel Kessel Plays Standards
3513Barney Kessel To Swing or Not to Swing
3514Duane TatroDuane Tatro's Jazz for Moderns
3515Hampton Hawes Trio This Is Hampton Hawes
3516Shelly Manne & His Men Swinging Sounds
3517Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-StarsIn the Solo Spotlight
3518Lennie NiehausVolume 1: The Quintets
3519Shelly Manne & His Men More Swinging Sounds
3520Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-StarsOboe/Flute
3521Barney Kessel Music to Listen to Barney Kessel By
3522 Buddy Collette Man of Many Parts
3523Hampton Hawes Trio Everybody Likes Hampton Hawes
3524Lennie NiehausVol 5: The Sextet
3525Shelly Manne Shelly Manne & His Friends
3526 Curtis Counce The Curtis Counce Group
3527Shelly Manne & His Friends My Fair Lady
3528Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-StarsMusic for Lighthousekeeping
3529 Jimmy Deuchar Pub Crawling with Jimmy Deuchar
3530 Sonny Rollins Way Out West
3531Buddy Collette Nice Day with Buddy Collette
3532 Art Pepper Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section
3533Shelly Manne & His Friends Li'l Abner
3534 Red Norvo Music to Listen to Red Norvo By
3535Barney Kessel, Shelly Manne and Ray Brown The Poll Winners
3536Shelly Manne & His Men Concerto for Clarinet & Combo
3537 André Previn & Russ Freeman Double Play!
3538 Red Mitchell Presenting Red Mitchell
3539Curtis Counce You Get More Bounce with Curtis Counce!
3540Lennie NiehausZounds!
3541 Victor Feldman Suite Sixteen
3542 Leroy Vinnegar Leroy Walks!
3543André Previn & His Pals Pal Joey
3544 Bob Cooper Coop! The Music of Bob Cooper
3545Hampton Hawes All Night Session! Vol. 1
3546Hampton Hawes All Night Session! Vol. 2
3547Hampton Hawes All Night Session! Vol. 3
3548André Previn & His Pals Gigi
3549Victor Feldman The Arrival of Victor Feldman
3550 Harold Land Harold in the Land of Jazz
3551 Ornette Coleman Something Else!!!!
3552 Benny Golson Benny Golson's New York Scene
3553Hampton Hawes Four!
3554 Art Farmer Portrait of Art Farmer
3555 Benny Carter Jazz Giant
3556Barney Kessel, Shelley Manne & Ray Brown The Poll Winners Ride Again!
3557Shelly Manne & His Men The Gambit
3558André Previn André Previn Plays Songs by Vernon Duke
3559Shelly Manne & His Friends Bells Are Ringing
3560Shelly Manne & His Men Shelly Manne & His Men Play Peter Gunn
3561Benny Carter Quartet Swingin' the '20s
3562 Cecil Taylor Looking Ahead!
3563Barney Kessel Carmen
3564Sonny Rollins Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders
3565Barney Kessel Some Like It Hot
3566Shelly Manne & His Men Son of Gunn!!
3567André Previn André Previn Plays Songs by Jerome Kern
3568Art Pepper Art Pepper + Eleven - Modern Jazz Classics
3569Ornette Coleman Tomorrow Is the Question!
3570André Previn Jazz Trio King Size!
3571 Helen Humes 'Tain't Nobody's Biz-Ness If I Do
3572André Previn & His Pals West Side Story
3573Art Pepper Gettin' Together
3574Curtis Counce Group Carl's Blues
3575André Previn Like Previn!
3576Barney Kessel, Shelly Manne & Ray Brown Poll Winners Three!
3577Shelly Manne & His Men At the Black Hawk 1
3578Shelly Manne & His Men At the Black Hawk 2
3579Shelly Manne & His Men At the Black Hawk 3
3580Shelly Manne & His Men At the Black Hawk 4
3581The Poll Winners Exploring the Scene!
3582Helen HumesSongs I Like to Sing!
3583 Teddy Edwards Teddy's Ready!
3584Shelly Manne The Three & The Two
3585Barney Kessel Workin' Out! with the Barney Kessel Quartet
3586André Previn André Previn Plays Songs by Harold Arlen
3587Shelly Manne & His Men The Proper Time
3588Teddy Edwards and Howard McGhee Together Again!!!!
3589Hampton Hawes For Real!
3590 Ruth Price Ruth Price with Shelly Manne & His Men at the Manne-Hole
3591 Bill Smith Folk Jazz
3592Teddy Edwards Good Gravy!
3593/4Shelly Manne & His Men Live! Shelly Manne & His Men at the Manne-Hole
3595 Gerry Wiggins Relax and Enjoy It!
3596 Howard McGhee Maggie's Back in Town!!
3597 Joe Gordon Lookin' Good!
3598Helen HumesSwingin' with Humes
3599Shelly Manne & His Men Shelly Manne & His Men Play Checkmate

The 5000 (mono)/9000 (stereo) series of 12 inch LP records commenced in 1956 and ran until 1962. [4] [5]

5001 Mel Henke Dig Mel Henke
5002 Claire Austin Claire Austin Sings "When Your Lover Has Gone"
5003Mel HenkeNow Spin This!
5004 Pepe Romero !Flamenco Fenomeno!
5005 Victor Feldman Latinsville!
5006 Shelly Manne and Jack Marshall Sounds Unheard Of!

Contemporary 3600/7600 series

The 3600 (mono)/7600 (stereo) series of 12 inch LP records commenced in 1962 and ran until around the early 1980s. [6] After 3624 all releases were stereo only. [7]

3600 Phineas Newborn Jr. A World of Piano!
3601Helyne StewartLove Moods
3602 Art Pepper Smack Up
3603 Barney Kessel Let's Cook!
3604Joy BryanMake the Man Love Me
3605 Jimmy Woods Awakening!!
3606 Teddy Edwards Heart & Soul
3607Art Pepper Intensity
3608 Leroy Vinnegar Leroy Walks Again!!
3609 Shelly Manne My Son the Jazz Drummer!
3610 Prince Lasha Quintet featuring Sonny Simmons The Cry!
3611Phineas Newborn, Jr. The Great Jazz Piano of Phineas Newborn Jr.
3612Jimmy Woods Conflict
3613Barney Kessel Barney Kessel's Swingin' Party
3614 Hampton Hawes The Green Leaves of Summer
3615Phineas Newborn, Jr. The Newborn Touch
3616Hampton Hawes Here and Now
3617Prince Lasha and Sonny Simmons Firebirds
3618Barney Kessel Feeling Free
3619 Harold Land The Fox
3620 Elmo Hope Elmo Hope Trio
3621Hampton Hawes The Seance
7622Phineas Newborn, Jr. Please Send Me Someone to Love
3623 Sonny Simmons Rumasuma
3624 Shelly Manne Outside
7625/6Sonny Simmons Burning Spirits
7627/8 Woody Shaw Blackstone Legacy
7629Shelly Manne Alive in London
7630Art Pepper The Way It Was!
7631Hampton Hawes I'm All Smiles
7632Woody Shaw Song of Songs
7633Art Pepper Living Legend
7634Phineas Newborn, Jr. Harlem Blues
7635 The Poll Winners Straight Ahead
7636 Art Farmer On the Road
7637Hampton Hawes Hampton Hawes at the Piano
7638Art Pepper The Trip
7639Art Pepper No Limit
7640 Chico Freeman Beyond the Rain
7641 Ray Brown Something for Lester
7642Art Pepper Thursday Night at the Village Vanguard
7643Art Pepper Friday Night at the Village Vanguard
7644Art Pepper Saturday Night at the Village Vanguard
7645 Miles Davis and The Lighthouse All-StarsAt Last!
7646 Ben Webster Ben Webster at the Renaissance
7647 Terry Gibbs Dream Band
7648Phineas Newborn, Jr. Back Home
7649 Chet Baker and The Lighthouse All-Stars Witch Doctor
7650Art Pepper More for Les at the Village Vanguard
7651 Sonny Rollins Contemporary Alternate Takes
7652Terry Gibbs Dream BandThe Sundown Sessions
7653Hampton Hawes The Sermon
7654Terry Gibbs Dream BandFlying Home
7655 Curtis Counce Sonority
7656Terry Gibbs Dream BandMain Stem
7657Terry GibbsThe Big Cat
7658Terry Gibbs Dream BandOne More Time

14000 series

The 14000 series began in 1980 with 12 inch LP records and in 1982 commenced releases on compact disc. [8] After 1992 all releases were CD only. [7]

14001 George Cables Cables' Vision
14002 Joe Farrell Sonic Text
14003 Mike Garson Avant Garson
14004 Tete Montoliu Lunch in L.A.
14005 Chico Freeman Peaceful Heart, Gentle Spirit
14006 Joe Henderson Relaxin' at Camarillo
14007 Jay Hoggard Rain Forest
14008Chico Freeman Destiny's Dance
14009 Bobby Hutcherson Solo / Quartet
14010 Peter Erskine Peter Erskine
14011 Bill Perkins Journey to the East
14012 Bud Shank California Concert
14013 Frank Morgan Easy Living
14014George Cables Phantom of the City
14015George Cables Circle
14016 Jimmy Rowles and Red Mitchell Jimmy Rowles with the Red Mitchell Trio
14017Bob Cooper and Snooky Young In a Mellotone
14018Shelley ManneIn Zurich
14019Bud Shank That Old Feeling
14020 The Jazztet Back to the City
14021Frank Morgan Lament
14022 Terry Gibbs The Latin Connection
14023 Chris Connor Classic
14024 Billy Higgins Bridgework
14025 Joshua Breakstone Quintet Echoes
14026Frank Morgan Quintet Bebop Lives!
14027Bud Shank Bud Shank Quartet at Jazz Alley
14028Luther HughesLuther Hughes and Cahoots
14029 Art Farmer Something to Live For: The Music of Billy Strayhorn
14030George Cables By George
14031Bud Shank Serious Swingers
14032Jimmy RowlesI'm Glad There Is You
14033Barney KesselSpontaneous Combustion
14034The Jazztet Real Time
14035Frank Morgan & George Cables Double Image
14036Terry Gibbs and Buddy DeFranco Chicago Fire
14037 Tom Harrell and George RobertSun Dance
14038Chris ConnorNew Again
14039Frank Morgan and the McCoy Tyner Trio Major Changes
14040Joshua Breakstone Evening Star
14041Kerry CampbellPhoenix Rising
14042Art Farmer Blame It On My Youth
14043Tom HarrellStories
14044Barney KessellRed Hot & Blue
14045Frank Morgan Quartet Yardbird Suite
14046 Jackie and Roy Full Circle
14047Terry Gibbs and Buddy DeFrancoHoliday for Swing
14048Bud Shank Tomorrow's Rainbow
14049 Carol Sloane Love You Madly
14050Joshua Breakstone Quartet Self-Portrait in Swing
14051 Rumsey, Howard Jazz Invention
14052Frank Morgan Allstars Reflections
14053 John Campbell After Hours
14054Tom HarrellSail Away
14055Art Farmer Ph.D.
14056Terry Gibbs and Buddy DeFrancoAir Mail Special
14057Art Farmer and Frank Morgan Central Avenue Reunion
14058 Kenny Burrell Guiding Spirit
14059Tom HarrellForm
14060Carol SloaneThe Real Thing
14061John CampbellTurning Point
14062Joshua Breakstone Trio 9 by 3
14063Tom HarrellVisions
14064Frank Morgan and Bud Shank Quiet Fire
14065Kenny Burrell Sunup to Sundown
14066Terry GibbsMemories of You
14067Terry GibbsKings of Swing
14068 Leroy Vinnegar Walking the Basses
14069 Celedonio Romero and Celin Romero Spanish Guitar Music
14070 Pepe Romero ¡Flamenco Fenomeno!
14071 Helen Humes 'Deed I Do
14072 Hampton Hawes Something Special
14073Chico Freeman Focus
14074Teddy Edwards Back to Avalon
14075 Melton Mustafa Boiling Point
14076 Michael Orta Freedom Tower
14077 Howard Rumsey Mexican Passport
14078Terry MyersSoul Mates
14079Billy RossWoody
14080Eric AllisonMean Streets Beat
14081Dennis PointsImages
14082Jesse JonesSoul Serenade
14083Billy MarcusHamp
14084Lanny MorganPacific Standard
14085Melton MustafaSt. Louis Blues
14086 Art Pepper San Francisco Samba
14087 Tom Ranier In the Still of the Night
14088Eric AllisonAfter Hours

See also

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  2. Contemporary Records Catalog: 3500/7500 series, accessed May 6, 2015
  3. Concord Music Group website, accessed May 7, 2015
  4. Contemporary Records Catalog: 3600/7600, 5000, 6000 series - album index, January 5, 2017
  5. Contemporary Label Discography, accessed January 5, 2017
  6. Contemporary Records Catalog: 3600/7600 series, accessed May 7, 2015
  7. 1 2 Callahan, M. Contemporary Label Discography, Both Sides Now website, accessed May 7, 2015
  8. Contemporary Records Catalog: 14000 series, accessed May 7, 2015