13th January 2016
1987 was the transformative year for the label as we started to take on the rest of the Fantasy catalogue: Stax and the Creedence Clearwater Revival albums; then, in 1988, Prestige, Riverside, Milestone and all the other jazz Fantasy had tucked away. Pablo was added in 1989 and this all culminated in all the jazz labels being housed under the OJC umbrella in 1992. More of this later, but it had a big impact on what we were doing and even in the new Harlesden premises we were rapidly running out of space so we bought two adjoining buildings to expand the warehouse.
We also started two new labels to accommodate very different styles of music.
Initially BGP stood for Baz [Fe Jazz], Gilles [Peterson] Productions. The label was aimed at a different dance floor from the one that the Northern soul of Kent records was being played on. Named Rare Groove back then, though it went through a number of name changes, including Wah Wah Jazz. The first BGP release was a Mongo Santamaria compilation, the ideal Latin/jazz mix for the times. Right through its life the vast majority of BGP releases were drawn from the Fantasy jazz labels..
BLUE HORIZON was producer Mike Vernon’s label. It started in 1965 with a Hubert Sumlin outing and eventually mixed US-licensed material with recordings by Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack, Duster Bennett as well as US bluesmen like Otis Span and Eddie Boyd.
The early recordings ended up in the maw of CBS Records but Mike retained the label name. So, together, we resurrected it and as expected he brought us impeccably produced recordings by Blues And Trouble and Louisiana’s Lazy Lester and over the next nine years a series of mainly local blues and R&B artists. Mike also features in the Ace story as producer and later member of Rocky Sharpe and the Replays. A real gent to do business with.
We gradually eased into the deal with Fantasy, initially taking in the Stax catalogue and then Creedence Clearwater Revival. Our contact was their overseas licensing person, the highly knowledgeable Bill Belmont. He brought the labels to us piecemeal. At the start we weren’t sure we could handle such huge catalogues, so easing into them was actually a blessing.