Bob Weinstock, the collector-turned-producer who launched Prestige Records in 1949, had his finger on the pulse of modern jazz better than perhaps any other label executive of his time. During the Fifties, Prestige served as the catalyst for the careers of such previously underappreciated innovators as Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, and John Coltrane, to name but a few. The Prestige Records Story celebrates the label's 50th anniversary with 50 thoughtfully chosen selections, sequenced in roughly chronological order on four compact discs, that provide a fascinating overview of the company's prolific output from its inception to its sale in 1971 to Fantasy, Inc.
In contrast to the usually well-rehearsed sessions issued by its chief rival, Blue Note Records, Prestige produced more impromptu affairs in which kindred musical spirits were invited to the studio and given largely unfettered reign to improvise. Again and again, this blowing session approach to jazz, in the words of Don Schlitten, producer of numerous Prestige albums in the Sixties, succeeded in capturing Athe true essence of what this music is all about.
Besides being on the cutting edge, Weinstock kept a keen eye on the marketplace and made Prestige the prime purveyor of the soul-jazz style associated with such artists as Gene Ammons and Jack McDuff. For an independent jazz label, the company had more than its share of R&B and pop hits, including King Pleasure's Moody's Mood for Love, Etta Jones's Don't Go to Strangers, and Richard Groove Holmes's Misty, all of them contained in this essential retrospective.