A very good friend of jazz, Lester Koenig was the founder and head of Contemporary Records. The company he started in 1951 was, along with Pacific Jazz, one of the top L.A.-based jazz labels active during the cool era. A large number of Contemporary's releases became classics, including numerous sets by Shorty Rogers, Shelly Manne, Art Pepper, Hampton Hawes, Chet Baker, the Lighthouse All-Stars, Benny Carter, Helen Humes, Phineas Newborn, and Sonny Rollins. Koenig kept an open mind towards newer developments, and in the late '50s released recordings by Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman (the latter's first two dates). In addition, his love for Dixieland resulted in the Good Time Jazz subsidiary, a label most notable for the recordings of the Firehouse Five Plus Two, Kid Ory, Lu Watters' Yerba Buena Jazz Band (earlier sessions which were ...
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