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Candid Records Relaunches with Five Iconic ’60s Jazz & Blues Recordings

Label to reissue historic albums from Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln and others originally produced by Nat Hentoff

Max Roach's "We Insist! Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite"
Max Roach’s “We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite”

Candid Records, a label founded in 1960 by bandleader Archie Bleyer as a jazz subsidiary to his Cadence Records, has come back to life in its third iteration, as a subsidiary of Exceleration Music, which is led by noted record industry veterans Glen Barros, John Burk, Mark Wexler, and others. The label is reissuing five albums from the early ’60s on CD, vinyl, and streaming services: Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus; Max Roach’s We Insist!; Lightnin’ Hopkins’ Lightnin’ in New York; Abbey Lincoln’s Straight Ahead; and Otis Spann Is the Blues. In addition, Candid plans to reissue other releases from its extensive catalog, including some issued during its rebirth in the ’80s. The label already released new recordings in 2021 from Stacey Kent, Eliane Elias, and the Count Basie Orchestra, with plans for several new albums in 2022.

In 1960 Bleyer asked Nat Hentoff to act as an A&R man and producer in the hopes of capturing the electricity and vitality of the New York jazz and blues scene of the late ’50s and early ’60s. The first album produced by the noted writer was pianist Spann’s Otis Spann Is the Blues. That was quickly followed by Roach’s We Insist!, which became an iconic album that addressed civil rights issues with its material and famous cover re-enacting the Greensboro sit-in. The aforementioned recordings by Mingus, Lincoln, and Hopkins came soon after, along with albums by Cecil Taylor, Booker Ervin, Booker Little, Don Shirley (portrayed in the 2018 film Green Book), Don Ellis, and other notable jazz artists of that time. Remarkably, Candid was shut down in 1964, making it both one of the most successful and unsuccessful jazz record labels in history.

The British producer Alan Bates, founder of Black Lion Records, bought the Candid catalog and name in 1989 and released a few hundred albums by artists such as Lee Konitz, Kenny Barron, Jessica Williams, Clark Terry, Donald Harrison, Jamie Cullum, and many more. But this new partnership with Exceleration Music, a company created to work with and for labels with deep and important catalogs, is bringing Candid a fresh start. Both Burk and Barros were key leaders at Concord Records and Mark Wexler has a long history with the GRP label and Concord Records.

“Candid Records is synonymous with some of the greatest artists and recordings in jazz. In relaunching the label, we are thrilled to be able to introduce the breadth and depth of the catalog, and the legendary artists and recordings within, to new generations,” Burk said in a press release received by JazzTimes. “We also intend to honor and build upon the legacy with new recordings from the greatest artists in jazz today, as well as those who represent the future of the genre.”

“With a wealth of recordings to consider to relaunch the label, these first five titles represent a cross section of a very specific important time in the history of Candid Records,” said Wexler, the label’s new head, in the same press release. “They pay homage to these brilliant artists, their legendary producer Nat Hentoff and a time in our world which signified great social discourse and change.”

All five of those original albums will be available on CD and on streaming services on April 15, and on vinyl on June 24. Learn more at the Candid Records website.

Originally Published