Craft Recordings and Acoustic Sounds Announce the Next 12 AAA 180g LP Titles in Their Contemporary Records Acoustic Sounds Series That Will Be Released Throughout 2024, Commencing February 23

Craft Recordings and Acoustic Sounds have just announced the latest entries in their rightly acclaimed Contemporary Records Acoustic Sounds series. An even-dozen AAA 180g 1LP titles will be released all throughout 2024 starting on February 23, including “sought-after albums” (their words — but essentially true!) from Art Pepper, Shelly Manne & His Men, Harold Land, Hampton Hawes, Howard McGhee, Prince Lasha Quintet, Ben Webster, Helen Humes, and Sonny Rollins.

Originally engineered by Roy DuNann and/or Howard Holzer, each LP in the series will sport lacquers cut from the original AAA master tapes by noted engineer Bernie Grundman (who also happens to be a Contemporary Records alum). All of these 1LP editions are being pressed on 180g vinyl at Quality Record Pressings (QRP), and will be presented in Stoughton old-style tip-on jackets. Any/all of the forthcoming 12 titles can be pre-ordered directly through Craft Recordings and Acoustic Sounds. Each of the LP in the new series carries an SRP of $30 apiece via Craft, $29.98 each via Acoustic Sounds, or $29.99 from Music Direct.

Artists, titles, and respective release dates are all listed below (with the balanced of the album descriptions provided by the Craft PR team), directly followed by each album’s track listings and side breaks.

Music Direct Buy It Now



Release date: February 23, 2024

Saxophonist Art Pepper was considered one of the best altos of his time, just behind Charlie Parker. This 1960 recording, whose album’s title presages the addiction that would soon offline the self-taught musician’s career, features compositions written by fellow saxophonists (including Ornette Coleman’s “Tears Inside,” and Buddy Collette’s “A Bit of Basie”). Finding Pepper at his finest, most limber form, his own composition “Las Cuevas de Mario” is a particular standout in 5/4 time, and it would pop up on his setlists in subsequent years.


Side A
1. Smack Up
2. Las Cuevas De Mario
3. A Bit Of Basie

Side B
1. How Can You Lose
2. Maybe Next Year
3. Tears Inside



Release date: March 15, 2024

Shelly Manne, a famed bebop drummer who worked with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, also made his name in Hollywood as the sticksman on soundtracks for classic films such as The Wild One and The Man With the Golden Arm. He never lost his passion for playing club shows, and recorded this album (the first of four volumes) during a 1959 gig at San Francisco’s Black Hawk nightclub in the Tenderloin district. The album opens with a leisurely take on Gershwin’s “Summertime,” and goes on to dazzle with the swinging waltz of “Blue Daniel.”


Side A
1. Summertime
2. Our Delight

Side B
1. Poinciana
2. Blue Daniel
3. Theme: A Gem From Tiffany



Release date: April 12, 2024

The title track — the breathless “The Fox” — makes stellar use of the unforgettable Dupree Bolton, the mythically talented trumpeter out of Oklahoma City whose career tragically derailed, as well as legendary pianist Elmo Hope, who penned four of the album’s six tracks, highlight saxophonist Land’s overall prowess. The surprisingly moving, honey-like “Mirror Mind Rose” also showcases Land’s range, and is an extraordinary exercise in expression and restraint.


Side A
1. The Fox
2. Mirror Mind Rose
3. One Second, Please

Side B
1. Sims A-Plenty
2. Little Chris
3. One Down



Release date: May 17, 2024

This revisiting of Hampton Hawes’ 1961 release comes four days after what would’ve been his 95th birthday. One of the most influential pianists of his time, this self-taught prodigy shines bright in familiar territory: whether it’s his exquisite harmonic locked-hands style on the boppin’ “Crazeology” — recorded well after his friend Charlie Parker brought it to fame — or his lively, flittering rendition of the much-covered Cole Porter ballad “I Love You.” Here, Hawes is backed by Clifford Brown/Max Roach saxophonist Harold Land and Scott LaFaro, the gone-too-soon double bassist famous for his work with the Bill Evans Trio.


Side A
1. Hip
2. Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams
3. Crazeology

Side B
1. Numbers Game
2. For Real
3. I Love You



Release date: June 14, 2024

Just in time for summer comes this reissue featuring the criminally unsung Howard McGhee, the dexterous bebop trumpeter who’s frequently compared to greats such as Dizzy Gillespie and Fats Navarro. Maggie’s Back in Town!! (Maggie was McGhee’s nickname), captures the musician’s triumphant return to music in 1961. Here, he overachieves in rhythmic fluidity, a through-line that’s particularly potent in seemingly carefree songs such as “Sunset Eyes” and the title track.


Side A
1. Demon Chase
2. Willow Weep For Me
3. Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise
4. Sunset Eyes

Side B
1. Maggie’s Back In Town
2. Summertime
3. Brownie Speaks



Release date: July 12, 2024

Another Howard McGhee LP recorded just before the above-noted Maggie’s Back in Town!! this is a collaboration between McGhee and his old friend, saxophonist Teddy Edwards. Also featuring Phineas Newborn, Jr on piano, the sultry, otherworldly “Misty” is a spectacular entwining of each musician’s superpowers and the golden mean of musicianship.


Side A
1. Together Again
2. You Stepped Out Of A Dream
3. Up There

Side B
1. Perhaps
2. Misty
3. Sandy



Release date: August 16, 2024

Prince Lasha Quintet’s critically adored, transcendent avant-garde jazz opus features saxophonist Sonny Simmons, a frequent Lasha collaborator who’d finally get his time in the spotlight about three decades later, while signed to Quincy Jones’ Qwest Records. Songs such as the jaunty “Bojangles” and rhythm-forward “Congo Call” imbued the Quintet’s brand of free jazz, recorded here in 1962, with an identity independent of Ornette Coleman’s influence on them.


Side A
1. Congo Call
2. Bojangles
3. Green And Gold
4. Ghost Of The Past

Side B
1. Red’s Mood
2. Juanita
3. Lost Generation
4. A. Y.



Release date: September 13, 2024

This superlative 1960 performance from the Duke Ellington Orchestra alum and his band — pianist Jimmy Rowles (Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald), guitarist Jim Hall (Jimmy Giuffre, Sonny Rollins), bassist Red Mitchell (André Previn, Billie Holliday), and drummer Frank Butler (Duke Ellington, John Coltrane) — features something for everyone, from a feather-light, sentimental take on “Georgia on My Mind” to the swaggering insouciance of “Ole Miss Blues.”


Side A
1. Georgia On My Mind
2. Caravan
3. Renaissance Blues

Side B
1. Ole Miss Blues
2. What’s This Thing Called Love
3. Stardust



Release date: October 11, 2024



Release date: October 11, 2024

Two more essential Art Pepper reissues coming on the same day were originally recorded in 1960, they were first released on either side of Smack Up, and both albums underscore just how refreshingly creative Pepper was at the time. The tight “Bijou the Poodle,” penned by Pepper, leads the way. Often described as a sequel to Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section, Gettin’ Together! once again finds Pepper backed on beat by Miles Davis alums (bassist Paul Chambers, drummer Jimmy Cobb). Meanwhile, the San Francisco Examiner sums up 1963’s Intensity, the last release of his early period, as Pepper being “well on his way toward a new kind of playing freedom.”


Side A
1. Whims Of Chambers
2. Bijou The Poodle
3. Why Are We Afraid?
4. Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise

Side B
1. Ole Miss Blues
2. What’s This Thing Called Love
3. Stardust


Side A
1. I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me
2. I Love You
3. Come Rain Or Come Shine
4. Long Ago (And Far Away)

Side B
1. Gone With The Wind
2. I Wished On The Moon
3. Too Close For Comfort



Release date: November 8, 2024

Helen Humes takes on the standards on her second Contemporary Records release. The Louisville native got her start as a jazz and blues vocalist — including a stretch with the Count Basie Orchestra — but went on to define the sound of swing. Her silken-voiced renditions of “If I Could Be With You” and “You’re Driving Me Crazy” at once exude wistfulness, but mostly joy. With Humes backed by a dream team, the album features a wealth of gold-standard saxophonists such as Ben Webster, Teddy Edwards, and Art Pepper.


Side A
1. If I Could Be With You
2. Don’t Worry ’Bout Me
3. Mean To Me
4. Every Now And Then
5. I Want A Roof Over My Head
6. St. Louis Blues

Side B
1. You’re Driving Me Crazy
2. My Old Flame
3. Million Dollar Secret
4. Love Me Or Leave Me
5. Imagination
6. Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone



Release date: December 6, 2024

Closing out the year is Way Out West, from tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins. In a genre where so much talent burned out too young, Rollins (now retired at age 93) held court as one of jazz’s most formidable talents. The album’s infamous 3 a.m. recording sessions featured Rollins’ sax strolling over the contributions of onetime Ella Fitzgerald bassist Ray Brown and iconic West Coast Jazz drummer Shelly Manne, neither of whom he’d ever played with before then. The results are incredible, with “I’m an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande),” a satirical song about Texas written by Johnny Mercer and made famous by Bing Crosby, skillfully merging country with jazz, while Rollins’ own composition, the title track, reminds us of his dexterity and playful ambivalence towards time signatures.


Side A
1. I’m An Old Cowhand
2. Solitude
3. Come, Gone

Side B
1. Wagon Wheels
2. There Is No Greater Love
3. Way Out West

Music Direct Buy It Now


michaelengelbrecht's picture

I missed this old jazz when being inteoduced to the the music of my greenhorn years and started with Impulse and ECM. A giid way to start the wild 70’s:)

Now seeing your announcements of albums with sax player Harold Land, I remembered that one of my first Blue Note albums had been a fusion-fuelled lp witz Bobby Hutcherson and Harold Land, I just don‘t remember the title. You see both of their faces on the cover, and though that albums is not regarded as a milestone of that fusion era, I always loved it. It is totally relaxed, the playing elegant, and these two guys really had a fantastic interplay. (Hutcherson was not so deep into fusion, as I learned later, but like some of the old Blue Note guys, he left some traces when jazz became more rocky and electric.)

Then: Sonny Rollins. i once saw him life at a jazz festival in Dortmund, playing before the fantastic Anthony Braxton Quartet from the Arista years (when will these ones be reissued, fantastic works all of them, the quartets, the big band, the duo).

As a kid I had one Rollins album: Horn Culture. Again an album from a time after his legendary works. But beautiful, so to speak. I lost this one somewhere, but my memory is still strong. Much later I got to know his five star albums from the days of old, and, honestly, the album I am constantly returning to is WAY OUT WEST.

I can listen to this one again and again. Absolutely audiophile, absolutely deep stuff. And, who is playing at his side - Ray Brown and the gorgeous Shelly Manne. His drumming so relaxed and creative in every moment. Maybe i will find another album of drumming excellence here on your list…

That said, I found some of the pearls within the last years, from CRAFT and other labels, a fantastic one from Mr. Ben Webster (i think, Mr. Smotroff introduced me to that one) and Art Pepper, of course… and, well, pne of the old cats frok Blue Note was Joe Henderson… who also had a rather short lasting cinnection to fusion jazz… but bith were killers: MULTIPLE, with Holland and DeJohnette, and THE ELEMENTS (still a desert island album for me)…

Rashers's picture

a few years ago. The artistry, sound, engineering and mastering of these late 1950s and early 1960s recordings is spectacular. The Acoustic Sounds reissue series is great, in many ways - although I am not a great fan of the way BG mastered, in particular, the early reissues: too laid back too loungy. The OGs are mastered loud and punchy.
Nevertheless - this is a phenomenal collection - the Art Pepper sides are, in my view (alongside APMTHRS) essential in any serious jazz collection. It is also great to see Harold Land, Teddy Edwards and Howard McGee represented.
I'm really looking forward to the Shelly Manne Blackhawk album - my current copy is a 98g green label repress from sometime in the 1970s (D4 and D5 stampers).
Hopefully these releases will restate the status and reputation of West Coast Jazz for a younger audience. Great to see the Webster and Lasha sides released as well - a tip of the hat to swing and Avant Gard.
Hopefully somebody will get around to re-issuing the New Jazz albums and Blue Note will release more Pacific Jazz (I think they likely also have the masters for "Modern Art" - one of Pepper's great albums - although there are no weak Art Pepper records).