It’s no secret; records are in full-swing as a new generation adopts the format for its nostalgia and sound. So much focus is given to the industry kingpins that separating out what deserves a closer listen from the average major-label release means taking chances on newer labels or gambling on things entirely unfamiliar. Sam Records, a Parisian-based outfit specializing in jazz reissues is a great example of what happens when you strip out the accelerated production schedules of big-budget releases and replace quantity with quality.
Our re-pressings pay tribute to the people – the musicians, producers, labels, photographers, graphic artists and sound engineers – who created the original recordings that have become enduring legends of 1950s and ’60s jazz.
Barney Wilen is new(ish) to me. Born in Nice, Wilen found initial success as a contributor to Miles Davis’ European tour dates and sessions, most notably on the original soundtrack recording for Ascenseur pour l’échafaud in 1958. The same year, at only 21 years old, the second record from Wilen as a leader, Jazz Sur Seine, incorporates the unusual maturity of his style with the rarity of Milt Jackson exclusively on piano. Percy Heath and Kenny Clarke complete the lineup with Gana M’Bow on two cuts adding an “exotic touch” for the Django Reinhardt interpretations: Swing 39 and Minor Swing.
The reissue from Sam Records introduced me to both a label and artist, both of which I’m very happy to be acquainted. The pressing is immaculate, with a luminous black gloss sheen, flat profile and the authentic sound of audiophile mastering from original sources. Pressed at Pallas, housed in an old-style flip-back jacket, with a double insert of photographs printed taken from a contact sheet and limited to 1,000 units, each is visually inspected to prevent defects and costs about $40.
In the tradition of labels wholly devoted to vinyl re-pressing, Sam Records puts out a product of top-notch musical and visual quality.