Various Artists (Mainstream Records)

Bob Shad was one of the quiet music men. Unlike those such as Leonard Chess, Sam Phillips and Ahmet Ertegun, he was not the sort of independent label owner about whom legends are built and films are made (which is ironic, given that his grandson is Hollywood director Judd Apatow). He got on with his job, recorded jazz, blues, soul and rock, discovered great artists such as Big Brother & The Holding Company and prised some of the best work out of Max Roach, Clifford Brown, Sarah Vaughan and others.

In 1964 he set up Mainstream Records, originally as a jazz label, to indulge his first musical love and to capitalise on the money that could be made selling albums rather than singles. By 1966, after spotting the market in album-based rock, he’d started to sign and release acid rock LPs on Mainstream, discovering the Janis Joplin-fronted Big Brother & The Holding Company and the Amboy Dukes, featuring the young Ted Nugent. But by the end of the decade Shad had become tired of the amount of money needed to break rock acts. When he re-launched Mainstream in early 1970 it was almost exclusively as a jazz label.

At that time, jazz was in a state of change and economic decline. Clubs that had provided live work for jazz artists began to close or be turned into discothèques to cater for a younger audience raised on soul music. Jazz record labels were either going bust, selling out to bigger concerns or recording the funky electric jazz that was beginning to be called fusion. By the early 70s, Mainstream was one of the few outfits left recording acoustic jazz. As such, the company’s catalogue offers an otherwise under-represented view of the jazz world.

Ace Records are proud to be able to release a series of compilations that will look at the brilliant music released on Mainstream. The psychedelic rock will be released on Big Beat, while BGP will cover the rest, starting here with “A Loud Minority”, which focuses on the deep spiritual jazz recorded by the label in the early part of the 70s.

For full details see releases/products below.

Releases / Products