Between now and the end of 2017, the entire MPS jazz catalog of 500 albums will be reissued digitally as downloads. The German record label known for its sterling sound was founded in 1968 and lasted until 1983, when the rights were sold to Polygram. MPS stood for Musik Produktion Schwarzwald—or Music Production Black Forest, where its studios were located. In the States and other countries, the label was distributed by BASF, which is why the acronym accompanied the MPS logo on releases by artists ranging from Oscar Peterson and the Singers Unlimited to a range of European discoveries. The Hamburg-based company Edel:Kultur is now reissuing the catalog.
Last week I told you about Lucky Thompson's A Lucky Songbook in Europe, recorded by MPS in 1969. This week, I found a nifty MPS recording among the re-issues by Art Van Damme, an American accordionist who died in 2010. The album is Squeezing Art & Tender Flutes.
Recorded in 1972, the album featured Van Damme with four flutists and a rhythm section: Rudi Risavy, Hans Wolf, Heribert Thusek, Kurt Kumpel (fl); Art Van Damme (accor); Sigi Schwab (g); Milan Pilar (b) and Branislav Kovacev (d). Heribert Thusek doubles on vibes on The Best Thing for You (Would Be Me). The flutes were arranged by Christian Schmitz-Steinberg, a gorgeous German pianist, orchestrator and conductor from Munich. [Photo above of flutist and vibist Heribert Thusek]
I love the jazz accordion when it swings and have posted on Ernie Felice, Pete Jolly, Tommy Gumina and several other masters of the instrument. I've also posted on jazz albums that have featured flocks of flutes (here, here and here). To come upon a 12-song album where the two are combined is pure bliss. The flutes are tightly arranged and function as harmony-happy birds while Van Damme's accordion playfully scatters them into flight.
This is sophisticated jazz-pop at its finest, with wonderful song choices and European elan. I'm looking forward to learning more about Christian Schmitz-Steinberg (above). His arranging taste on this album is extraordinary.
JazzWax tracks: You'll find Squeezing Art & Tender Flutes (MPS) here.
Also worthwhile, from 1969, is the newly reissued Art Van Damme's Art and Four Brothers here, which features the accordionist accompanied by saxes and a rhythm section: Art Van Damme (accor); Hans Wolf (as); Werner Dauber, Rolf Prinz (ts); Heinz Loch (bar); Heribert Thusek (vib); Fred Rundquist (b) and Charly Antolini (d).
JazzWax note: For more information on the MPS catalog and releases thus far, go here (let the page load with images).
JazzWax clips: Here's The Best Thing for You...
And here's Paco...