Lester Koenig’s independent (yes there was indie music back in the 50s) Contemporary Records label was home to some of the brightest stars in jazz from 1952-1977. The roster was immense and very impressive. Luminaries such as Shelly Manne, Hampton Hawes, Victor Feldman, Art Pepper, and Ray Brown called the label home for many productive and wonderful years. To be sure, this label helped to shape jazz into what it is today.
The Contemporary Records Story is a handsomely bound book and placeholder for four amazing and eclectic CDs, including pictures of the album covers from where the tracks originally came from. What I enjoyed the most about this comprehensive set, was the mixture of different styles and ranges each featured artist had at their disposal. Koenig was able to bring out the best in this adventurous group of individuals.
Any jazz lover would treasure this collection as I do. Nearly every style of jazz you can imagine gets coverage within the 57 tracks found on this set. I listened several times with great joy to this music. Some box sets can become predictable and mundane by the time you spin the third disc, this is not the case here at all. There is something new and interesting to discover on every CD. This boxed set would be a great starter for those that want to learn more about jazz and the different styles within the genus, and not a bad stocking stuffer either for you late Christmas shoppers.