All posts by Jez Sharpo

Starday Custom

Coming in December – the first of the “Starday Custom” boxes.

Although the Starday record company was not by any means the first labe lot dabble with customs presses,they are probably one of the most famous and sought after. What was originally a sideline to scrape in a few bucks – the “custom” or “vanity” business – came to really flourish after 1956, when any Tom, Dick & Harry could go cut a record of their own. Lack of publicity killed almost all of the tracks dead in the water, but it enabled the artist to walk around, handing out his own record, a little like a vinyl business card. On the whole, the sound and recording quality always seemed a lot clearer on many Starday Customs (with a few exceptions), making airplay more of a possibility. When Don Pierce (a stalwart of the 4- Star OP custom pressing dept. from California) joined Starday Records he began their own series, starting with Coast Records from Los Angeles. From 1953 up through to the early seventies, Starday managed to release at least 700 different 45s from artists all over the US, and the odd one or two from Canada as well.

This box set starts on #500 and ends on #675. There are a few records listed in the book that are not on the CDs – sadly, after 30 years of collecting (and in some cases for other collectors, 40+ years) these records simply haven’t turned up yet. All in all, this set includes 312 tracks on 10 CDs, and comes with a 116-page, LP-sized hardcover book with label pictures and liner notes about each single.

Track listing and pre-order details at Bear Family!

Action Packed!

Coming soon from BE! Sharp is another box for those who enjoyed “Nasty Rockabilly” and the State box sets. This time it’s a collection of all eleven volumes of the “It’s Gonna Be Action Packed” album series – 196 tracks including 16 bonus songs.

Comes as a 27 x 27 cm box with 6 CDs and a 28-page booklet.

Currently in production are the long-awaited Starday Custom set, the “Alabama Box”, and another box with recordings from the Balve New Jazz Festivals.


1970s New Jazz In Concert

Last year’s “Born Free” box set was the first one – now there’s another big one: The “Balve Box” is now available!

Both sets come in a 27 x 27 cm box, with 32-page booklets, featuring recording dates and musician line-ups, plus newspaper clippings and lots of (previously unseen) pictures from the events.

Born Free Set 1

The “Born Free” box has the performances from the 12th German Jazz Festival 1970 – 10 hours of music on 9 CDs with complete sets from Wolfgang Dauner, Peter Brötzmann, Gunter Hampel Group, Limbus 4 and many others, plus a 37 min. specially commissioned work from the European Free Jazz Orchestra of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, directed by Lester Bowie.

Born Pages 2 Born Pages 3 Born Pages 4

The “New Jazz Festival Balve” release features performances from two festivals held in the ancient cave at Balve, West Germany, in 1974 and 1975. 11 CDs with 13 hours of music present complete performances and improv sessions by Gary Burton, Peter Brötzmann, John Surman, Pat Metheny and many more.

Balve Page 2 Balve Page 3 Balve Page 4


Hipp is COOL

The new BE! Jazz box will be released in late October.

Jutta Book 2

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction by Robert von Zahn:

There are people who have never heard of Jutta Hipp. Even German jazz fans can’t categorize her when the name is mentioned. You might give some hints by referring to the 1950s and to cool jazz – but it still won’t ring a bell. Only when pointing out to her recordings for BLUE NOTE might you see some appreciative smiles.

So why curate a project on Jutta Hipp with an enyclopedic character? Perhaps because there are indeed jazz fans who will be all smiles when listening to the first chords of a Jutta Hipp recording. And perhaps because Jutta Hipp is appreciated by female jazz musicians – not only for her music but also for her biography, a life that was entirely dedicated to jazz for many years.

Jutta Book 6

Jutta Hipp played a highly memorable piano style. During her cool phase she captivated listeners with her individual drive – her superior technical skills and atmospheric style were so cool that merely by listening you’d imagine in your mind’s eye a pianist in black attire, sunglasses, and a cigarette holder in the corner of her mouth. In reality, however, the photographs show a beautiful woman, without much coolness, but with untamed red hair and a restrained tension in her eyes.

It was not easy for her to dedicate her live to jazz. Growing up in Germany during the Third Reich she absorbed jazz music by listening to enemy radio broadcasts. She gave some offence – not only with her music but also with her rebellious spirit. In the postwar era she finally moved to the west and performed at American NCO clubs, with like-minded musicians and with German bands who tried to follow in the footsteps of their American jazz idols.

Jutta Hipp stood out. Her piano style, her pretentious appearance and the fact that she was a woman who played jazz music – all these facts attracted attention. In Frankfurt am Main her reputation spread across the borders of the jazz community. A cool jazz icon, she won theGerman  jazz polls and conquered the Frankfurt jazz festivals – until jazz impresario Leonard Feather offered her the big step to the land of limitless opportunity – to the USA, to New York.

This box-set provides a complete overview of this versatile artist. Especially her outstanding visual work is hardly known, and here, for the first time, it receives a comprehensive acknowledgement. She left behind a collection of watercolour paintings, drawings and cartoons. Her poems and sketches give evidence of her precise observational skill with regard to both physiognomy and characters. Thus it comes as no surprise that Jutta Hipp’s recollections paint very poignant pictures of her contemporaries: for the most part it’s the letters to her friends which offer an insight into her experiences and thoughts.

Jutta Book 7 Jutta Book 8

The aim of this BE! RECORDS box-set presenting “The Life And Art Of Jutta Hipp” is to put the creation of her works in a biographical context. The authors describe the various phases in Jutta Hipp’s life, pointing out typical situations female artists had to deal with during that era – from the 1940s to the 1960s – which made it considerably more difficult for a woman to pursue a career in music than it was for her male colleagues.

Jutta Book 9

Jutta Hipp recorded for BLUE NOTE, she performed with international stars – and yet she abandoned her musical career. Fotos and documents illustrate the stages of her career and the emerging decision to withdraw from the jazz scne. The recordings of Jutta Hipp’s style, however, are timeless – sometimes lyrical, sometimes with driving chords. You might hear a permanent “let’s go!” coming from her left hand.

Robert v. Zahn

6103 Jutta Hipp Box


February News

ballet etudes/the music of KOMEDA

Krzysztof Komeda was a Polish film music composer and jazz pianist. Perhaps best known for his soundtrack work, Komeda wrote the scores for Roman Polanski’s films Rosemary’s Baby, The Fearless Vampire Killers, Knife in the Water and Cul-de-sac. Komeda’s album Astigmatic (1965) is widely regarded as one of the most important European jazz albums; critic Stuart Nicholson describes the album as “marking a shift away from the dominant American approach with the emergence of a specific European aesthetic.”

This period, in which Komeda was improving his own musical language, was crowned with “Ballet Etudes” performed at the Jazz Jamboree ’62. Although the reaction of domestic critics for the Etudes was rather cold, it opened the doors to Europe for Krzysztof Komeda.

The original Danish Metronome LP is very desired among jazz collectors worldwide. Top copies sell for astronomic prices. This reissue comes perfectly restorated and remastered on BE! Jazz including the original liner notes.

6087 Komeda

Krzysztof Komeda war ein polnischer Komponist und Jazzpianist, der hauptsächlich durch seine Filmmusiken bekannt wurde. Er schrieb den Soundtrack für die Roman Polanski-Filme “Rosemary’s Baby”, “Tanz der Vampire”, “Das Messer im Wasser” und “Wenn Katelbach kommt”. Komedas Album Astigmatic (1965) zählt zu den wichtigsten Jazz-Alben in Europa: der Kritiker Stuart Nicholson beschreibt das Album als “einen Wechsel von der amerikanischen Spielweise hin zu einer speziell europäischen Ästhetik”.

Die Krönung seiner damaligen Schaffensperiode, in der er seine eigene musikalische Sprache verbesserte, war das Werk “Ballet Etudes”, das beim Jazz Jamboree ’62 aufgeführt wurde. Obwohl die Rezensionen der einheimischen Kritiker zu “Ballet Etudes” eher kühl ausfielen, öffnete es für Krzysztof Komeda die Türen nach Europa.

Das dänische Original Metronome-Album ist unter Jazzliebhabern ein weltweit sehr begehrtes Sammlerstück. Sehr gut erhaltene Exemplare werden zu astronomischen Preisen gehandelt. Diese Wiederveröffentlichung erscheint perfekt restauriert und remastert auf BE! Jazz, zusammen mit dem Original-Begleittext.

Vinyl LP | Limited Edition of 500 copies!
| Be! Jazz 6087
CD | digipac in book format | incl. 16-page booklet
| Be! Jazz 6087 CD

AVAILABLE from Bear Family Records




BE! Jazz is excited to announce the revival of the “European Jazz Sounds” series that started around 1960 with legendary albums by the Michael Naura Quintet, Tubby Hayes or Max Greger. On our first volume we present the early recordings of the renowned “Joki Freund Quintet” from the late 1950s. German saxophonist and arranger Joki Freund played with Jutta Hipp in the mid-’50s, before forming his own Joki Freund Quintet. During the late Fifties they played at various European festivals with visiting American musicians like Donald Byrd, Arthur Taylor, and Doug Watkins. The group got famous for their John Coltrane-influenced masterpiece “Yogi Jazz” in 1963.

This music comes perfectly restorated and remastered on BE! Jazz for the first time in 55 years. Listen to this record like never before!

6091 Joki

Wir freuen uns, die Wiedergeburt der “European Jazz Sounds”-Serie bekanntzugeben, die um 1960 herum mit gesuchten Alben vom Michael Naura Quintet, Tubby Hayes und Max Greger ins Leben gerufen wurde. Auf unserer ersten Folge präsentieren wir die frühen Aufnahmen des legendären “Joki Freund Quintet” aus den späten Fünfzigern. Der deutsche Saxophonist und Arrangeur Joki Freund spielte zunächst mit Jutta Hipp, bevor er seine eigene Band, das Joki Freund Quintet, gründete. Ende der Fünfziger Jahre traten sie bei verschiedenen europäischen Festivals auf, zusammen mit Gastmusikern wie Donald Byrd, Arthur Taylor und Doug Watkins. Berühmt wurde die Band durch ihr von John Coltrane beeinflusstes Meisterwerk “Yogi Jazz” aus dem Jahr 1963. Diese Aufnahmen sind – zum erstenmal seit 55 Jahren – auf BE! Jazz wieder erhältlich, perfekt restauriert und remastert. So haben Sie diese Platte noch nie gehört!

Vinyl LP | Limited Edition of 500 copies!
| Be! Jazz 6091
CD | digipac in book format | incl. 20-page booklet
| Be! Jazz 6091 CD

AVAILABLE SOON from Bear Family Records