Other Jazz Record Labels – Europe
These label samples include both first European releases of US records, local country recordings, and also later reissues. Note: some samples are UK pressings on that European label.
2. Steeplechase Stereo (1982)
Founded in 1972 by Nils Winther, a student at the time who began recording performances at Jazzhus Montmartre, where many American expatriates played, and was given permission by some of the artists to release the material on record. SteepleChase became a haven for many artists who had lost contracts with larger labels after the 1960s. (Wiki) Go here to see entire Steeplechase Catalogue listing.
Steeplechase are found pressed in Denmark and in Holland.
France: America Records
Reissue label, very little if anything known regarding its origins. Average pressings – just about acceptable but nothing special to commend them. Inexpensive.
Founded in March 1967 by Jean Georgakarakos, Jean-Luc Young and Fernand Boruso. The name of the label was formed from the initial letters of their surnames .By 1972, financial problems had plagued BYG to the point where it virtually went underground. Georgakarakos and Young later formed their own record labels, Celluloid (Georgakarakos) and Charly (Young) (Source: Wiki) Not uncommonly found as Japanese pressings.
France: Disques Swing
Disques Swing was founded in 1937 by Charles Delaunay in association with Pathe-Marconi, and distributed by HMV (La Voix de son Maître) since 1950.
1. Original Swing label:
Photo courtesy of Johnny
2. US reissue of an original French recording on Swing
France: Guilde du Jazz (50’s)
French division of the Fifties mail order record club Jazztone, who also issued their own recordings.
Jazztone (modern European?)
Catalogue includes many scarce Barney Wilen recordings. Average quality for modern digital transfers.
France: Pathé (1983)
Relative of Pathe-Marconi, possibly at this stage part of the EMI empire.
France: Riviera (Barclay)
Barclay Records was founded in the mid-1950s by pianist/ band-leader/ music entrepreneur Edouard Ruault, who changed his name to the more American-sounding Eddie Barclay. Barclay also founded the Riviera label. In his long career Barclay accumulated nine wives. His trademark was a white suit, and his Saint-Tropez parties at which all the guests wore white became huge events for the French media.(source: Wiki)
Label of Shandar Records
Enja Records was founded in 1971 in Munich by jazz enthusiasts Matthias Winckelmann and Horst Weber. The name Enja was coined as acronym from European New Jazz. A huge accumulated catalogue of mostly original recordings and excellent quality vinyl pressings, from the era of low tracking weight home hifi, and therefore usually in excellent condition. Highly Recommended.
Successor to SABA, MPS are exceptionally fine quality vinyl recordings and pressings. Catalogue includes many Francy Bolland Big Band recordings, with their stellar line up of British, American and German artists.
Predecessor to MPS, self-described “legendary” audiophile label but in my experience nothing special, a little dull and lacking top-end, perhaps better than some of the substandard pressings around at the time, but overall a sonically weak, my several SABAs all have the same character. My verdict: avoid unless the music is compelling.
1981 sample, not strictly a vintage jazz label but included for completeness.
Wim Wigt’s Dutch label, Timeless, which captures some excellent music but is, in my limited experience, compromised by by pressing quality issues, and I tend to avoid unless the music is compelling.
Italy: Europa Jazz
Italy: Jazz O.P.
Notable for recordings on the Gigi Campi/ Cologne jazz scene, including Sahib Shihab and Francy Boland collectiveUnusually for modern vinyl, superb quality recordings and pressings, highly recommended. Notable for recordings on the Gigi Campi/ Cologne jazz scene, including Sahib Shihab and Francy Boland collective
Italy: Soul Note
Soul Note and its sister label Black Saint are two affiliated Italian jazz independent record labels which have released albums from a variety of influential jazz musicians, particularly in the genre of free jazz. Black Saint was established in 1975 by Giacomo Pelliciotti and devoted to recording avant-garde musicians who might not have an opportunity elsewhere. In 1979, a sister label, Soul Note, was established as a home for artists who, while being no less creative, might be considered slightly closer to the mainstream.
Italy: Black Saint
1. EARLY LABEL (1976)
Not known whether this was a one-off or the early design, but was replaced by the regular label below – which has all track information on just the one label, and the generic below on the other side, saving print costs.
Vinyl quality can sometimes be very good, however, depending on title, the recording/mastering is sometimes not as good as it should be. Some later titles that crossover into the era of CD production, I have found rather disappointing. I have not enough to explain this variability, but I have noted some titles are recorded in Italian Studios, others in New York., and there is no consistency in who was at the studio controls. Label owner Giovanni Bonandrini seems to me concerned himself with the artist creative music side of the Label, but lacked an equivalent technician like RVG to drive the recording and mastering quality.
Dragon Records was founded by journalist Lars Westin in 1975. Its catalogue includes several hundred albums by Swedish Jazz musicians (both historic and contemporary recordings) including a substantial portion of baritone saxophonist Lars Gullin recordings from the 1950s, and visits by American musicians to Sweden including Miles Davis with John Coltrane in the early Sixties.
Vinyl quality is exceptionally good.
Switzerland: hat Hut
Interesting set of stamps and etchings in the run out from this swiss “avant garde” label. EDP? Cover address both Switzerland and US, dual nationality. Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy and others, music not so much Far Out as completely unhinged and over the edge.
Sample: “As opposed to the conventional structuring of musical events, constructivist methods of organization reject juxtaposition and development in favour of an idiosyncratic system of layering and looping, so that his editing and manipulations do not intensify the awareness of time passing, but remove time from the experience. The importance of rhythm, the means of measuring time as it moves through a predetermined space, is replaced by sound-colour: a complex program of textures, densities, shades and micro-shades, and audible events are sustained like scenery passing before our eyes – although the scenery may be shrouded in fog, an ambience of persistent mystery, or even a dreamlike obscurity. Yet, simultaneously, the listener assumes responsibility for the specifics, if not the nature, of the experience. By entering into his soundscape we encounter a zone of energy, activity, and tension; a hyper-state of mind where representations of Nature and Industry collide, where perception and memory resonate in the echoes of fading and remembered events, where close attention organizes self-referential designs in the restless, ritualistic flow of sound. This is a Travelogue into uncharted territory, but one that can only take you where you want to go” -Art Lange
Not something to take to dance parties.