Thursday, 27 August 2009

Info: Prestige Records

Prestige Records,
was a record label founded in 1949 by Bob Weinstock (October 2, 1928–January 14, 2006). The label’s name was initially New Jazz, but changed to Prestige Records the next year. The label’s catalog contains a significant number of jazz classics, including renowned works by Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk and many other giants of the idiom. Weinstock was known for encouraging the performances to be unrehearsed for a more authentic, exciting sound. To this effect, Prestige Records, unlike Blue Note Records, would not pay musicians for rehearsals. Another Weinstock practice, of rewinding the tapes after “bad” takes, has resulted in very few alternate takes from the classic Prestige years surfacing.
For most of the 1950s and 1960s, the recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder was responsible for recording the company’s releases and Ira Gitler occasionally fulfilled the role of producer in the early 1950s.

Around 1958, Prestige began to diversify, reviving the “New Jazz” name, usually for recordings by emerging musicians, and introduced the Swingsville and Moodsville lines, though these were relatively shortlived, many albums being re-released later in the 1960s on Prestige itself. Bluesville Records was also a subsidiary label of Prestige.
During this period, Weinstock ceased supervising recording sessions directly, employing Chris Albertson, Ozzie Cadena, Esmond Edwards Don Schlitten, and producer/music supervisor Bob Porter, among others, to fulfil this function. Musicians recording for the label at this time, including Jaki Byard and Booker Ervin, were perhaps less celebrated than their predecessors in the labels existence, but Prestige remained commercially viable by recording a number of soul jazz artists like Charles Earland.
Bob Weinstock has been criticized over the years for allegedly sharp business practices. Jackie McLean in A.B. Spellman’s Four Lives in the Bebop Business (1966) is particularly outspoken, but others, including Albertson and Miles Davis in his autobiography, have defended him. The “junkies label” tag has also been applied to Prestige, although the problem of drug addiction was so widespread in the jazz world that this reputation may not be justified.
The company was purchased in 1971 by Fantasy Records, and original releases on the label have formed a significant proportion of their Original Jazz Classics line.
From Wikipedia.

Prestige Records,
founded in 1949 by Bob Weinstock, began in New York at 446 West 50th Street. In the early years, Weinstock used a variety of recording studios around the city — Nola Studios, Beltone Studios, among others. In the 1950s, most of the recordings were made by Rudy van Gelder in his home studios in Hackensack, NJ; when van Gelder moved to Englewood Cliffs in July 1959, Weinstock continued to use the studio. In 1967, Prestige moved to nearby Bergenfield, NJ (203 South Washington Avenue), where it remained until 1971 when it was sold to Fantasy Records in San Francisco.

Although a number of new sessions were recorded in San Francisco studios in the 1970s, by this time most of the Prestige releases were reissues of various sorts.
Prestige employed several superb producers in addition to Weinstock: Chris Albertson, Ozzie Cadena, Esmond Edwards, Ira Gitler, Cal Lampley, Bob Porter, and Don Schlitten. Rudy van Gelder’s expertise as a recording engineer, plus the designs of a variety of photographers, artists, and graphics studios, contributed to the “Prestige look and sound” which was in its own way as distinctive as Blue Note’s.
Prestige employed a number of outstanding jazz artists of the postwar years. Among the “regulars” were: Gene Ammons, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Eric Dolphy, Booker Ervin, Art Farmer, Red Garland, Wardell Gray, Milt Jackson and the MJQ, Jackie McLean, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt, and Mal Waldron. In addition, “hard bop” and “soul jazz” ensembles flourished, headed by the likes of Richard Groove Holmes, Brother Jack McDuff, Don Patterson, and Shirley Scott. Some of the more “modern” sessions were released on a subsidiary label, New Jazz, begun in the late 50s; more “mainstream” sessions, including an important series of blues recordings, were issued on the Bluesville, Moodsville, and Swingville labels in the early 1960s.
In the 60s, Prestige began licensing recordings from important European labels such as Metronome (Sweden), Gramophone and Ultraphone (France), and MPS (Germany), as well as lesser-known American labels such as Argo and Progressive.
The lists here include most of the jazz recordings released on the Prestige family of labels. One of the things Prestige (and later Fantasy) was famous (or infamous) for is reissues. Many items appear several times in the lists. Some titles begin as 78rpm singles, then appear on 7″ 45rpm EPs, then on 12″ LPs — and some of these LPs are issued multiple times, often with different titles and covers. I’ve tried to indicate, especially with the later 10″ and 12″ LP issues, which numbers are reissues, and what prior titles they duplicate.
I’m indebted to Michel Ruppli’s excellent discography The Prestige Label: A Discography (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980), and to Toyoki Okajima’s The Prestige Book (Discography of All Series) (Tokyo: Jazz Critique, 1996).

Prestige : the label i love…

By Pier

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