Contemporary in Europe and Japan

1.  UK Contemporary Vogue

US Contemporary recordings were released in the UK by Decca-owned Vogue Records, on the dedicated Contemporary Vogue label. The label ran from around 1956 until  the mid Sixties. (exact dates not known, ©1966 has been seen)  All the major Contemporary artists were released on Contemporary Vogue, and much sought-after US pressings can sometimes be obtained less expensively on these UK editions, though the very rarest titles are also hotly contested by European collectors. Of those in my collection below, Jimmy Woods, Art Pepper, Sonny Rollins, Curtis Counce, Teddy Edwards and Howard McGhee  are particularly collectable, and expensive.

The UK cover art is exactly the same as that of the US edition.



Likewise the liner notes are a replica of those in the US.


Recordings were re-mastered by Decca engineers from copy tapes sent from the US, and pressed at Decca’s New Malden plant. To the ears, these were high quality faithful masters which have made the necessary on-the-fly adjustments noted in Roy DuNann’s mastering notes.   Typically these are  150-160 gram substantial vinyl -some  heavier than their US counterparts, with deep groove either in the usual  78rpm position or more usually around the outer rim of the label. All aspects of pressing are to Decca high standards.

The label is lemon yellow rather than the US  canary yellow. (The clone-makers who plague the Contemporary catalogue always copy the US yellow label and cover).

The run-out bears the conventional Decca drilled stamp VMGT-####-1# for mono and ZMGT-####-1#, the final letter being the code for the Decca engineer – usually for Jazz, Ron Mason (code B)

Most of the titles were released only in mono, but towards the end of the series titles began to appear in stereo.

2. UK Contemporary Vogue Stereo  (1963)



Deep groove Decca pressing on black and silver label. Matrix code indicates stereo ZMGT instead of VMGT, “1” = 1st pressing, “W” is Decca Engineer Harry Fisher, L= George Bettyes. In each case, stereo was mastered by other engineers, not the regular “B”.

A = Guy Fletcher B = Ron Mason C = Trevor Fletcher D = Jack Law E = Stan Goodall F = Cyril Windebank G = Ted Burkett K = Tony Hawkins L = George Bettyes W = Harry Fisher

3. UK later Contemporary (Yellow label, no “Vogue”)  mono, 1966

Deep Groove, missing large “Vogue” name.  “VMGT” machine stamp code, (“1”) 1st Matrix, press by Decca New Malden, engineer Ron Mason (“B”)

4. Japan Issue:  King Records

This label is a rare early Japanese pressing by King of a Contemporary originally released in the US in  1958. Its dual provenance makes it difficult to classify, hence cross-posted in both London Records and Contemporary.


Photo courtesy of Antonio

5. 1974 production by King Records, Tokyo with the more familiar Contemporary Records design:

Japan release of US original stereo – facsimile label – manufactured by the mighty King Record Company, Tokyo. In the 1970’s King were literally the King of Japanese pressings, known not only for their superior audio fidelity and silent vinyl but also for the extraordinary care of records taken by the Japanese vinyl owner.

Fine plastic inner sleeves protected against paper scuffs, but more importantly, the lightweight-tracking arms of quality Japanese hifi left no trace of damage to vinyl grooves. Scratched records were a matter of shame in the Japanese jazz community, atonement requiring the ritual disembowelling of Hari Kari, imitating the movement of the record arm scratching across the record.

Ironically, Japanese jazz collectors desperately seek US original pressings, to the neglect of Japanese pressings, which often flow the other way to the US and Europe.


6 thoughts on “Contemporary in Europe and Japan

      • Yes, I meant the Chaloff, a Storyville recording with the red Vogue labels, whereas all the others are Contemporary recordings, with U.K. Contemporary labels.
        Of course, they all have the Decca parent in common.
        I have an oddity. A Contemporary recording issued with the red Vogue labels, pressed in South Africa. It is Benny Golson ’s first recording ever, for Contemporary, sound by Tommy Nola. The South African sleeve shows the N.Y. skyline, in a nice drawing, without Golson…. We are in 1958!


  1. For a look at Decca pressing dies over time, you can see its evolution through Decca’s Esquire label pressings, here –

    The dies in use at New Malden presses changed over time, hence the type of die – outer rim or 78rpm-style – merely indicates approximate year of pressing. It doesn’t discriminate “originals” from repressings the way DG does for US Blue Note, and as a result has no bearing on “collectability” (as far as I am aware)


  2. Hi there, thanks for the knowledge. Great site! I’m curious about the different positions of the deep groove on the UK mono editions. The 78rpm position compared to the outer rim. Was one variation earlier than the other? Does this effect the collectibility/value? Thanks!


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