Some notes from the Jazz Presentation, by Len Goldstein:
There are and have been so many jazz labels, it can be dizzying to contemplate...well into the thousands. The heaviest of heavy weights being Blue Note with their famous amounts of rehearsal time, their willingness to record innovative artists, and Rudy Van Gelder sound. Other famous and important labels include but are not limited to, Dial which virtually introduced BeBop to the world,Atlantic, Prestige, Verve, Riverside, Concord, Commodore,Contemporary to name just a few.
My focus today is on four labels for different reasons...First Mosaic, because this is Jazz 101 and Mosaic encompasses the entire course. Entirely, with one or two notable exceptions, a reissue label but with a huge difference. Mosaic has never re-issued a particular album with say, the original artwork etc., but have produced limited edition (and in many instances quite valuable) box sets with the complete, including alternate takes, output of a well defined group or artist for a particular label and period. For instance, The Complete Live Count Basie Roulette and the Complete Roulette Studio Count Basie, both big box sets. Box sets are usually beautifully produced, and importantly contain booklets about the recordings the artists, label including detailed session notes.
If you want an overview of Jazz covering all eras in a loving , completist fashion...study Mosaic. Issues are often but not always in good sound. Pressings and packaging is impeccable.
Next is Pablo which is interesting from so many points of view, including the name. As I have posted before the label was a labour of love for Norman Granz who was known for the large Verve label and the prior small but venerated Clef label. Granz idolized Pablo Picasso and named his label after him. Picasso returned the favour by designing and drawing, on a napkin the story goes, the dog logo. Pablo recorded uncountable great stars sometimes in and sometimes after their prime, including Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard.Variable sound quality but very often, very good.
Which leads me to two lesser known labels which share some of the characteristics mentioned above i.e. Labours of LOve, Recording great artists, often after their prime years but always with great respect and variable but often excellent sound...Disques Black and Blue, From 1968 to the early '80s, the French label recorded Swing and Mainstream great who were simply being ignoredin the U.S. Sammy Price, Jay McShann, Earl Hines, Budd Johnson, Buddy Tate and many others along with a good sprinkling of French players. John Lee Hooker also made a record with these folks. I love and collect this label and enjoy listening to the vast majority of them.
Sackville is last and not least. This is a Canadian label with pressings in Canada but that has not stopped them from producing a lot of good sounding albums including more than adequate piano. Bill Smith (publisher, editor of Coda, the Canadian jazz magazine) founded the label along with John Norris, coincidentally in 1968, same year as Black and Blue. They also record many of the same artists listed above. The label has a bit of a split personality because they love the old timers but also the avant- grade and have recorded both. I have more than once quoted from the back of their album covers a phrase which sums it up for me..."Produced by John Norris and Bill Smith who wish to thank ...artists name here...for the privilege of recording their must"