Birka Jazz Home
   On Internet since 1998

The Birka Jazz Archive
Records we have bought and sold over the years - the rare and the beautiful!

Please note!
These albums are not for sale. Click HOME to find our record store.

HOME


Scroll down and use the links to browse our comprehensive Archive of rare jazz album covers

First page  |  Previous  |  Next





AMERICAN LABELS

COLUMBIA RECORDS
The pioneers of album cover design

CLEF, NORGRAN, VERVE (1)
David Stone Martin

CLEF, NORGRAN, VERVE (2)
The photographic covers

BLUE NOTE  10" LPs
Searching for a modern jazz identity

BLUE NOTE  1500 series
Defining the hard bop style

BLUE NOTE  4000 series
Masterpieces of Reid Miles

PRESTIGE RECORDS
Images of East Coast jazz

RIVERSIDE RECORDS
Street cred with Thelonious Monk

PACIFIC JAZZ
Moods of Chet and Claxton

CONTEMPORARY
Cool West Coast, great Sound

SAVOY RECORDS
Masterworks by Charlie Parker

DIAL RECORDS
Small label, big Bird sound

ATLANTIC RECORDS
Bold and striking albums

EMARCY RECORDS
The classic drummer logo label

BETHLEHEM RECORDS
The beautiful design of Burt Goldblatt

DEBUT RECORDS
Artist-operated jazz label with Mingus & Roach

CANDID RECORDS
Legendary, early 1960s LPs

ESP-DISK
Free jazz and silk screened covers

IMPULSE RECORDS
Edgy and experimental

RCA VICTOR
The high spirit of Jim Flora

VARIOUS US labels (1)
ABC-Paramount, Aladdin, Argo, Capitol, Coral, Dawn, Decca,
and more

VARIOUS US labels (2)
Epic, Fantasy, HiFi, Imperial, Jazzland, Jazz West, Jubilee, Mercury, Mode, and more

VARIOUS US labels (3)
Roost, Signal, Storyville, Tampa, Transition, United Artists, Vee Jay, and more



EUROPEAN LABELS

SWEDEN (1)
The EP era and Metronome Records in 1950s

SWEDEN (2)
The LPs in the 1950s, and Swedish jazz abroad

SWEDEN (3)
Changing times in the 1960s

SWEDEN (4)
New energy to Swedish jazz in the 1970s

DENMARK
Montmartre, Debut Records and the heydays in Danish jazz

NORWAY
Krog and Garbarek, greats in Norwegian jazz

FINLAND
Plenty of merged styles in Finnish jazz

FRANCE
Americans in Paris, force in French jazz

ENGLAND
Esquire and Tempo, classic labels in British jazz

GERMANY
Jazz labels with strong identity

ITALY
Rare Italian jazz covers

HOLLAND
From Diamonds to ICP in
Dutch jazz

POLAND
Unique series of Polish jazz on Muza


OTHER COUNTRIES
Jazz labels around the world







          

Contemporary Records

Great sound
and
cool West Coast jazz covers

CONTEMPORARY was the leading label in Los Angeles in the fifties, besides Pacific Jazz. The two labels ruled the independent jazz roost on the West Coast in the same way that Blue Note and Prestige were the pace-setter on the East Coast.

Contemporary was founded 1951 by Lester Koenig. Two years earlier he had started Good Time Jazz, a label devoted to traditionell jazz. And Contemporary was ment to be a label for contemporary classical music. But in 1953 Koenig ventured into modern jazz.

Since he had taste and concern for quality, Contemporary soon set standards with its superb audio and quiet pressings. In 1956, they also was among the first to record jazz in stereo. In the beginning they used a special label for the stereo versions of their recordings, called just Stereo Records.

          

The sound genius of
Roy DuNann

The genius behind the pure natural Contempory sound was Roy DuNann. As sound engineer he created some of the best-sounding recordings of all time, using a minimal but high-quality equipment in a "studio" which in reality was the tiny shipping room in the back of Koenig´s little office at Melrose Place in Los Angeles.

Look at the back cover photos on "Art Pepper meets The Rhythm Section", one of the label´s great LPs from the 1950s. You can see the shipping room with records stacked on shelves all around the musicans. Listen to the sound, and perhaps you will find that you suddenly are in that room with Art Pepper and the rhythm section!

 
 Art Pepper in the shipping room


   
   ... and Sonny Rollins


Contemporary was recognizable also by their fresh and bright cover graphics and informative liner notes. Robert Guidi and his studio Tri-Arts designed many of the covers, and the most hired photographer was William Claxton.

The label issued about 20 LPs in the 10" format into 1955 and then about 100 LPs in 12" format in the second half of the 1950s and early 1960s.

The recording activity faded out in the 1960s and besides many reissues only about 20 LP were produced during the decade. About the same number of LPs were produced in the 1970s.

Lester Koenig died in 1977 and the label was sold to Fantasy in 1984.





LINKS

Contemporary Discography
jazzdisco.com


The Search for Roy DuNann
Stereophile


 Coop! The Music of Bob Cooper   Label: Contemporary 3544   12" LP 1957
 Design: Robert Guidi   Photo: Peter James Samerjan

Contemporary

 Howard Rumsey: Sunday Jazz a la Lighthouse   Label: Contemporary C2501  
10" LP 1953   The First jazz LP from Contemporary Records
 
 

 Shelly Manne and His Men   Label: Contemporary C2503   10" LP 1953
 Photo: William Claxton
 
 

 Mary Lou Williams   Label: Contemporary C2507   10" LP 1953
 Design: Robert Guidi
 
 

 Barney Kessel   Label: Contemporary C2508   10" LP 1953
 Design and photo: William Claxton
 
 

 Shelly Manne, vol. 2   Label: Contemporary C2511   10" LP 1954
 Design: Catharine Heerman
 
 

 Lennie Niehaus vol 1 The Quintet   Label: Contemporary C2513   10" LP 1954
 Design: Robert Guidi   Photo: William Claxton
 
 

 Shelly Manne: The Three   Label: Contemporary C2516   10" LP 1954
 Design: Catharine Heerman   Illustration: Irene Trivas
 
 

 Shelly Manne & Russ Freeman   Label: Contemporary C2518   10" LP 1955
 Design: Catharine Heerman
 
 

 Claire Austin sings the Blues   Label: Good Time Jazz L-24   10" LP 1954
 
 

 Dizzy Gillespie: Dizzy in Paris   Label: Contemporary C4011   7" EP 1955
 Design: Robert Guidi
 
 

 Claire Austin: When your lover has gone   Label: Contemporary C-5002   12" LP 1956
 Compared to the singer's first album (above), this second album is different as night and day; musically, and not least how it looks...
 
 

 Hampton Hawes Trio   Label: Contemporary 3505   12" LP 1955
 Design: Pauline Annon   Photo: Alex de Paula
 
 

 Howard Rumsey: Lighthouse Laguna   Label: Contemporary 3509   12" LP 1955
 Design: Robert Guidi
 
 

 More Swinging Sounds   Label: Contemporary 3519   12" LP 1956
 Design: Robert Guidi
 
 

 Howard Rumsey: Oboe/Flute   Label: Contemporary 3520   12" LP 1956
 Design and photo: William Claxton
 
 

 Everybody likes Hampton Hawes   Label: Contemporary 3523   12" LP 1956
 Design and illustration: Robert Guidi
 
 

 Art Pepper meets The Rhythm Section   Label: Stereo Records 7018   12" LP 1957
 Photo: William Claxton
 
 

 Sonny Rollins: Way Out West   Label: Contemporary 3530   12" LP 1957
 Photo: William Claxton
 
 

 Presenting Red Mitchell   Label: Contemporary 3538   12" LP 1957
 Design: Robert Guidi   Photo: Hal Adams
 
 

 You get more bounce with Curtis Counce   Label: Contemporary 3539   12" LP 1957
 Design: Robert Guidi   Photo: Hal Adams
 
 

 Lennie Niehaus: Zounds!   Label: Contemporary 3540   12" LP 1957
 Photo: William Claxton
 
 

 Harold Land: In the Land of Jazz   Label: Contemporary 3550   12" LP 1959
 Design: Robert Guidi   Photo: Walter Zerlinden
 
 

 Cecil Taylor: Looking Ahead   Label: Contemporary 3562   12" LP 1959
 Design: Robert Guidi   Photo: Dennis Stock
 
 

 Barney Kessel: Somebody Like It Hot   Label: Contemporary 3565   12" LP 1959
 Design: Robert Guidi
 
 

 Art Pepper plus Eleven   Label: Contemporary 3568   12" LP 1959
 Design: Robert Guidi   Photo: Roger Marshutz
 
 

 O. Coleman: Tomorrow is the Question   Label: Contemporary 3569   12" LP 1959
 Design: Robert Guidi   Photo: Roger Marshutz
 
 

 Ornette Coleman: Something Else   Label: Contemporary 3571   12" LP 1959
 Design: Robert Guidi   Photo: Walter Zurlinden
 
 

 Art Pepper: Gettin´ Together   Label: Contemporary 3573   12" LP 1959
 Design: Robert Guidi   Photo: Roger Marshultz
 
 

 Portrait of Art Farmer   Label: Stereo Records 7027   12" LP 1959
 Photo: William Claxton
 
 

 Curtis Counce: Carl´s Blues   Label: Contemporary 3574   12" LP 1960
 Design: Robert Guidi   Photo: Cecil Charles
 
 

 Shelly Manne at the Black Hawk   Label: Contemporary 3577   12" LP 1960
 Design: Robert Guidi   Photo: Fred Lyon
 
 

 Teddy Edwards: Teddy´s ready!   Label: Contemporary 3583   12" LP 1960
 Design: Robert Guidi   Photo: William Claxton
 
 

 T.Edwards - H. McGhee: Together Again!   Label: Contemporary 3588   12" LP 1961
 Photo: Roger Marshutz
 
 

 Hampton Hawes: For Real   Label: Contemporary S7589   12" LP 1961
 Design: George Kershaw   Photo: Stan Levey
 
 

 Teddy Edwards: Good Gravy!   Label: Contemporary 3592   12" LP 1962
 Painting: George Bartell
 
 

 Howard McGhee: Maggie´s Back In Town!   Label: Contemporary 3596   12" LP 1961
 Photo: William Claxton
 
 

 Art Pepper: Smack Up   Label: Contemporary 3602   12" LP 1961
 Design: George Kershaw   Photo: William Claxton
 
 

 Leroy Vinnergar: Leroy Walks Again!   Label: Contemporary 3608   12" LP 1962
 Design: George Kershaw   Photo: Roger Marshutz
 
 

 Prince Lasha - Sonny Simmons: Firebirds   Label: Contemporary 3617 (S7617)   12" LP 1968
 Design: George Kershaw   Photo: Ed Michel
 
 

 
  HOME                                                  FIRST PAGE   |   PREVIOUS   |   NEXT