Contemporary Records  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

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.


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.

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, 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.Template: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.Template:Citation needed DuNann provided some details of his techniques in a Stereophile article nearly 50 years later.Template: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 sound—crisp, 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.

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

Contemporary Popular 5000/9000 series

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

Catalog Artist Album
5001 Template:Sortname Dig Mel Henke
5002 Template:Sortname Claire Austin Sings "When Your Lover Has Gone"
5003 Template:Sortname Now Spin This!
5004 Template:Sortname !Flamenco Fenomeno!
5005 Template:Sortname Latinsville!
5006 Template:Sortname aned 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.

Catalog Artist Album
3600 Template:Sortname A World of Piano!
3601 Template:Sortname Love Moods
3602 Template:Sortname Smack Up
3603 Template:Sortname Let's Cook!
3604 Template:Sortname Make the Man Love Me
3605 Template:Sortname Awakening!!
3606 Template:Sortname Heart & Soul
3607 Template:Sortname Intensity
3608 Template:Sortname Leroy Walks Again!!
3609 Template:Sortname My Son the Jazz Drummer!
3610 Template:Sortname Quintet featuring Sonny Simmons The Cry!
3611 Template:Sortname The Great Jazz Piano of Phineas Newborn Jr.
3612 Template:Sortname Conflict
3613 Template:Sortname Barney Kessel's Swingin' Party
3614 Template:Sortname The Green Leaves of Summer
3615 Template:Sortname The Newborn Touch
3616 Template:Sortname Here and Now
3617 Template:Sortname and Sonny Simmons Firebirds
3618 Template:Sortname Feeling Free
3619 Template:Sortname The Fox
3620 Template:Sortname Elmo Hope Trio
3621 Template:Sortname The Seance
7622 Template:Sortname Please Send Me Someone to Love
3623 Template:Sortname Rumasuma
3624 Template:Sortname Outside
7625/6 Template:Sortname Burning Spirits
7627/8 Template:Sortname Blackstone Legacy
7629 Template:Sortname Alive in London
7630 Template:Sortname The Way It Was!
7631 Template:Sortname I'm All Smiles
7632 Template:Sortname Song of Songs
7633 Template:Sortname Living Legend
7634 Template:Sortname Harlem Blues
7635 Template:Sortname Straight Ahead
7636 Template:Sortname On the Road
7637 Template:Sortname Hampton Hawes at the Piano
7638 Template:Sortname The Trip
7639 Template:Sortname No Limit
7640 Template:Sortname Beyond the Rain
7641 Template:Sortname Something for Lester
7642 Template:Sortname Thursday Night at the Village Vanguard
7643 Template:Sortname Friday Night at the Village Vanguard
7644 Template:Sortname Saturday Night at the Village Vanguard
7645 Template:Sortname and The Lighthouse All-Stars At Last!
7646 Template:Sortname Ben Webster at the Renaissance
7647 Template:Sortname Dream Band
7648 Template:Sortname Back Home
7649 Template:Sortname and The Lighthouse All-Stars Witch Doctor
7650 Template:Sortname More for Les at the Village Vanguard
7651 Template:Sortname Contemporary Alternate Takes
7652 Template:Sortname Dream Band The Sundown Sessions
7653 Template:Sortname The Sermon
7654 Template:Sortname Dream Band Flying Home
7655 Template:Sortname Sonority
7656 Template:Sortname Dream Band Main Stem
7657 Template:Sortname The Big Cat
7658 Template:Sortname Dream Band One More Time

14000 series

The 14000 series began in 1980 with 12 inch LP records and in 1982 commenced releases on compact disc.

After 1992 all releases were CD only.
Catalog Artist Album
14001 Template:Sortname Cables' Vision
14002 Template:Sortname Sonic Text
14003 Template:Sortname Avant Garson
14004 Template:Sortname Lunch in L.A.
14005 Template:Sortname Peaceful Heart, Gentle Spirit
14006 Template:Sortname Relaxin' at Camarillo
14007 Template:Sortname Rain Forest
14008 Template:Sortname Destiny's Dance
14009 Template:Sortname Solo / Quartet
14010 Template:Sortname Peter Erskine
14011 Template:Sortname Journey to the East
14012 Template:Sortname California Concert
14013 Template:Sortname Easy Living
14014 Template:Sortname Phantom of the City
14015 Template:Sortname Circle
14016 Template:Sortname and Red Mitchell Jimmy Rowles with the Red Mitchell Trio
14017 Template:Sortname and Snooky Young In a Mellotone
14018 Template:Sortname In Zurich
14019 Template:Sortname That Old Feeling
14020 Template:Sortname Back to the City
14021 Template:Sortname Lament
14022 Template:Sortname The Latin Connection
14023 Template:Sortname Classic
14024 Template:Sortname Bridgework
14025 Template:Sortname Echoes
14026 Template:Sortname Bebop Lives
14027 Template:Sortname Bud Shank Quartet at Jazz Alley
14028 Template:Sortname Luther Hughes and Cahoots
14029 Template:Sortname Something to Live For: The Music of Billy Strayhorn
14030 Template:Sortname By George
14031 Template:Sortname Serious Swingers
14032 Template:Sortname I'm Glad There Is You
14033 Template:Sortname Spontaneous Combustion
14034 Template:Sortname Real Time
14035 Template:Sortname & George Cables Double Image
14036 Template:Sortname and Buddy DeFranco Chicago Fire
14037 Template:Sortname and George Robert Sun Dance
14038 Template:SortnameConnor, Chris New Again
14039 Template:Sortname and the McCoy Tyner Trio Major Changes
14040 Template:Sortname Evening Star
14041 Template:Sortname Phoenix Rising
14042 Template:Sortname Blame It On My Youth
14043 Template:Sortname Stories
14044 Template:Sortname Red Hot & Blue
14045 Template:Sortname Yardbird Suite
14046 Jackie and Roy Full Circle
14047 Template:Sortname and Buddy DeFranco Holiday for Swing
14048 Template:Sortname Tomorrow's Rainbow
14049 Template:Sortname Love You Madly
14050 Template:Sortname Self-Portrait in Swing
14051 Rumsey, Howard Jazz Invention
14052 Template:Sortname Reflections
14053 Template:Sortname After Hours
14054 Template:Sortname Sail Away
14055 Template:Sortname Ph.D.
14056 Template:Sortname and Buddy DeFranco Air Mail Special
14057 Template:Sortname & Frank Morgan Central Avenue Reunion
14058 Template:Sortname Guiding Spirit
14059 Template:Sortname Form
14060 Template:SortnameSloane, Carol The Real Thing
14061 Template:Sortname Turning Point
14062 Template:Sortname 9 by 3
14063 Template:Sortname Visions
14064 Template:Sortname and Bud Shank Quiet Fire
14065 Template:Sortname Sunup to Sundown
14066 Template:Sortname Memories of You
14067 Template:Sortname Kings of Swing
14068 Template:Sortname Walking the Basses
14069 Template:Sortname and Celin Romero Spanish Guitar Music
14070 Template:Sortname ¡Flamenco Fenomeno!
14071 Template:Sortname 'Deed I Do
14072 Template:Sortname Something Special
14073 Template:Sortname Focus
14074 Template:Sortname Back To Avalon
14075 Template:Sortname Boiling Point
14076 Template:Sortname Freedom Tower
14077 Template:Sortname Mexican Passport
14078 Template:Sortname Soul Mates
14079 Template:Sortname Woody
14080 Template:Sortname Mean Streets Beat
14081 Template:Sortname Images
14082 Template:Sortname Soul Serenade
14083 Template:Sortname Hamp
14084 Template:Sortname Pacific Standard
14085 Template:Sortname St. Louis Blues
14086 Template:Sortname San Francisco Samba
14087 Template:Sortname In the Still of the Night
14088 Template:Sortname After Hours

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Contemporary Records" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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