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The Birka Jazz Archive
Records we have bought and sold over the years - the rare and the beautiful!
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Various US labelsPart 3
REGENT was an old american 78s record label which was purchased by Savoy Records in the late 1940s. Around 30 jazz LPs were issued in the 1950s.
REPRISE was established in 1961 by Frank Sinatra as a vehicle for his own recordings. He sold the company to Warner Brothers in 1963, but continued to record for the label into the end of his career - in all around 30 albums.
The Reprise catalogue included many great jazz artists, such as Duke Ellington who recorded eight album for the label in the 1960s. Also Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell and Ben Webster among others came out on Reprise.
The label design above was exclusive for Frank Sinatra. On other releases the portrait was changed to a steamboat drawing.
ROYAL ROOST was established in 1950 and was run by Jack Hooke and Teddy Reig into 1958, then the company became a division of Roulette Records. Royal Roost was associated with, and named after the night club Royal Roost in New York.
The label was called both Roost (on covers) and Royal Roost (on labels) and the output was almost entirely jazz. It organized important session with Stan Getz early in the 1950s and other principal artists were Johnny Smith and Sonny Stitt.
Roost issued about 20 LPs in the 10" format and about 60 LPs in the 12" format into mid 1960s.
In the early years almost all cover designs on Roost were made by Burt Goldblatt. He worked for many record companys. See the Bethlehem and Savoy pages among others.
ROULETTE was founded in New York in 1957. Roulette purchased the Roost label in 1958. Like Roost, Roulette was associated with a nightclub in New York. The owner was Morris Levi who run several nightclubs, among them the famous Birdland jazz club.
Roulette produced a variety of material, but not surprisingly, the company established the Birdland Series, which was devoted to jazz. The series included new recordings by Count Basie and albums by artists such as Maynard Ferguson and Sarah Vaughan.
The Birdland Series run into mid 1960s and slightly more than 100 jazz LPs were issued.
SIGNAL RECORDS was founded in New York in 1955 and run by Don Schlitten and Ira Gitler among others. It developed a reputation for well prepared recordings, perfectly engineered and with quality album designs and liners.
But the label was short-lived and issued only a handful LPs in the mid 50s. The catalogue was then sold to Savoy. Don Schlitten went to Prestige and was in the 1970s the founder of Coblestone and Xanadu labels.
STORYVILLE was formed in Boston in 1951 by George Wein. It evolved from the jazz club with the same name that he had opened the previous year.
Billie Holiday at Storyville
The Storyville catalogue contained recordings made both at the club and in studios. It included classic albums by Lee Konitz, Serge Chaloff and Zoot Sims among others.
The label was active in mid 1950s, but thereafter George Wein´s increasing involvement with the Newport Jazz Festival and other arrangements began to demand most of his time. The recordings discontinued and the club closed in 1959.
The label has no connection with the Danish label Storyville.
TAMPA RECORDS was founded in Hollywood in 1955 and owned by Bob Scherman and Irving Shorten. The company seems to have operated in about ten years and issued around 25 jazz LPs.
Unfortunately the techincal quality of the albums was not first class. The pressings are bad, and the covers are carelessly done. Titles vary from front cover to back cover, somtimes leaders are named, sometimes not etc.
In general Tampa issues come in two editions with different titles and covers. The first edition has red vinyl and a black label. The second has black vinyl and a pink label.
The founder Bob Scherman also owned other small labels and had produced rhythm & blues for labels such as King. The Tampa material has been reissued by VSOP Records.
TIME RECORDS was founded in New York in 1960 by Bob Shad. He was the man behind EmArcy in the 1950s and later, in mid 1960s, he also launched Mainstream Records.
Bob Shad produced a series of excellent albums for Time into 1966 then the label ceased. The catalogue included albums by Kenny Dorham, Max Roach, Booker Little, Sonny Clark among others.
TRANSITION was established in 1955 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by Tom Wilson. Around 10 jazz LPs were issued during the two years the company existed, including albums by Sun Ra, Donald Byrd and Cecil Taylor.
Transition also issued some folk and classical music. The catalogue was aquired by United Artists in the late 1950s, for whom Tom Wilson was by that time working as a producer.
UNITED ARTISTS, the record company, was founded in 1958, initially to release soundtracks from the UA films. But it soon diversified into many types of music. Their involvment in jazz was significant and they produced some fine albums in the late 1950s.
In the early 1960s the company started a committed series of jazz albums. It was created by Frank Gauna. He drew a nice saxophone logo and designed the albums in a distinguish style, with soft hues or black and white. Unfortunately the series was short-lived, and from 1963 not very much jazz came out from the United Artists.
The designer and photographer Frank Gauna was also the man behind the graphic look of Candid Records. See the separate Candid page.
VANGUARD RECORDS was established in New York in 1950 by the brothers Maynard and Seymor Solomon. From beginning devoted mainly to classical music, Vanguard also made important contributions to the jazz repertory. The series Jazz Showcase was sponsered by the magazine Down Beat and produced by John Hammond. About 25 LPs were issued between 1953 and 1959.
Though its jazz activities decreased in the 1960s, the company continued to made recordings of folk music and jazz fusion. They also made a series of important blues recordings in Chicago in mid 1960s. They were produced by Sam Charters.
VEE JAY RECORDS started in 1953 by Vivian Carter and James C. Bracken, who used their first initials for the label´s name. The label was soon the most successful black-owned company in the US. But in the mid 1960s the company was bankrupt.
Vee Jay was based in Chicago and mostly recorded blues and r&b. The catalogue contains important bluesmen such as John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed.
In the late 1950s Vee Jay started a jazz series, which was headed by Sid McCoy. Among the artists were the sidmen in Miles Davis group - Wayne Shorter, Wynton Kelly and Paul Chambers, and also trumpeter Lee Morgan. Around 40 jazz LPs were issued into the mid 1960s.
WARWICK was founded in New York in 1959 by Morty Craft. The label issued around 50 LPs into 1962, mostly pop and just a handful of jazz records. They were brilliant produced by Teddy Charles. He then left the jazz scene in New York for the Caribbean, where he opened a sailing business.
VORTEX was a jazz label run by Herbie Mann during his years at Atlantic Records in the 1960s. He also run the EMBRYO label. Both labels were distributed by Atlantic. Mann´s production credits include recordings by Chick Corea, Roy Ayers, Sonny Sharrock among others.
Singing and Swinging Label: Regent 6031 12" LP 1956
Various US labels ( 3 )
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