Mainstream Records was founded by legendary jazz producer Bob Shad in 1964. Previous to that Shad worked with Savoy Records and launched Time Records in the mid 50s.
His new label was a bit different. It was pretty contemporary. He worked with many jazz musicians that were perhaps a bit past their peak but still had something to say. Kats like Shelly Manne, Roy Haynes, Harold Land, and even Sarah Vaughn cut albums for Mainstream. He also worked with a lot of journeyman jazz musicians that had signficant careers playing with some of the major names of the period. Shad basically gave these musicians an opportunity to express their own voice. Later on Mainstream crossed over into the rock field producing the first album from Big Brother & The Holding Company as well as The Amboy Dukes. Plenty of collectible psych albums were released on the imprint as well.
Shad’s grandson is movie producer/comedian Judd Apatow. Along with his sister he is curating and mining the Mainstream catalog.
At the moment our primary focus is on the period of the early 70s when Shad was encouraging his jazz artists to plug in. There were some simply incredible albums released on the label that are frequently overlooked in the used bins. Huge mistake. If you are a fan of soul jazz, spiritual jazz, electric jazz, or kosmigroov - there were some phenomenal choices courtesy of Mainstream Records.
We are offering a selection of CD reissues from Japan that we think deserve your attention. Here’s one:
Curtis Fuller was a well regarded trombonist who spent many years playing with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. He also played with Miles Davis, Count Basie and many others. Crankin' was the second of two albums he cut for Mainstream and they were unlike anything else he recorded.
This is lethal modal/hard bop electric jazz. Fuller's band is ridiculous: Lenny White on drums, Stanley Clarke on electric bass, George Cables on electric piano, Bill Hardman on trumpet, Ray Morris on tenor sax, and Bill Washer on guitar. Everyone shines and Washer plays some out of this world guitar leads. George Cables is a gold badge of honor - you see an album with George Cables playing electric piano grab it. Bill Hardman was a great trumpeter that also played with Art Blakey. He cut great albums for Muse and Strata-East. What can you say about the rhythm section? Its amazing of course. Fuller plays his butt off - he takes the trombone to places you never thought possible.