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Fantasy to Compile Contemporary Records

Save your pennies, West Coast jazz fans. On May 25 Fantasy Jazz, will release a four-CD box set compiling cuts from the L.A.-based Contemporary Records label. Don’t remember Contemporary? The hell you don’t! Onetime film director Lester Koenig started the label in 1956-right after he was placed on that evil Hollywood blacklist at the height of the Red Scare-and promptly began recording left coasters like Art Pepper (pictured), Barney Kessel and Hampton Hawes. Perhaps the most famous disc on the Contemporary label Way Out West, by Sonny Rollins, one of the few East Coast musicians who recorded for the label.

Titled The Contemporary Story, the set will contain goodies from Kessel, Pepper, Benny Golson, Red Norvo, Helen Humes, Chico Freeman, Buddy Collette, Woody Shaw, Benny Carter, Rollins and Ornette Coleman. In fact, Ornette’s very first sessions were recorded for Contemporary. Perhaps we’ll get some rare takes of tunes from his debut Something Else!, or something else we’ve never heard before.

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