Big Bear Records
|Big Bear Records|
|Genre||Blues, jazz, swing|
|Country of origin||UK|
Big Bear Records was founded by promoter and band manager Jim Simpson in 1968, taking its name from the nickname given to Simpson by Radio 1 DJ John Peel. At the time, Simpson was managing The Locomotive, who had just scored a top 40 hit with "Rudi's In Love". After Parlophone, the band's existing label, declined to release the planned follow-up recording "Rudi The Red Nosed Reindeer", Simpson decided to set up his own Big Bear Records label to release the single (with the band renamed Steam Shovel for contractual reasons), with initial distribution from Island Records.
During 1968, Simpson established the weekly Henry's Blueshouse club night at The Crown Hotel on Station Street in Birmingham. Early members of the club included Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi, who one week approached Simpson to request a support slot at a future gig for their band, then known as Earth. Simpson would go on to manage Earth, who soon changed their name to Black Sabbath. Under Simpson's management, they reached number one on the album chart with Paranoid, before leaving him in 1970.
Following this, Simpson began to focus his attention on recording and touring American bluesmen, under the billing American Blues Legends. Featuring musicians including Tommy Tucker, Willie Mabon, Homesick James, Doctor Ross, Snooky Pryor, Cousin Joe, Eddie "Guitar" Burns, Champion Jack Dupree and Eddie Playboy Taylor, Big Bear released a total of 21 albums of American blues during the 1970s.
The 1980s saw Big Bear Records returning to Simpson's first love, mainstream jazz and swing. Assembling a lineup of leading British jazz musicians including Humphrey Lyttelton, Dick Morrissey, Digby Fairweather, Dave Shepherd and Jim Douglas, Big Bear promoted a live jam session on 12 August 1984 at Birmingham's Cannon Hill Park, recorded and released on LP as The M&B Jam Session. The success of the event provided the impetus for the first Birmingham International Jazz Festival the following summer, which continues to be organised annually by Big Bear Music every July. In 1987, Big Bear launched The Jazz Rag magazine, which continues to publish bi-monthly, as well as The British Jazz Awards. The first edition of the awards was marked with a ceremony at Birmingham's Grand Hotel, where the jam session featuring the poll winners was recorded and released as the British Jazz Awards 1987 album.
Big Bear Records continued to work with prominent names in British jazz into the 1990s, releasing albums by Lady Sings The Blues (fronted by Val Wiseman), Kenny Baker's Dozen, Bruce Adams and Alan Barnes.
|Year Released||Artist||Title||Catalogue Number|
|1968||Steam Shovel||Rudi the Red-Nosed Reindeer|
|1972||Eddie "Guitar" Burns||Bottle Up and Go||BEAR 16, Action ACMP 100|
|Johnny Mars||Blues from Mars||BEAR 17, Polydor 2460 168|
|Doctor Ross||Live at Montreux||BEAR 18, Polydor 2460 169|
|Gene Conners with Mickey Baker||Let the Good Times Roll||BEAR 19, Polydor 2460 185|
|1973||Various Artists||American Blues Legends '73||BEAR 20, Polydor 2460 186|
|Homesick James & Snooky Pryor||Homesick James & Snooky Pryor||BEAR 21, Caroline C 1502, INT 146.404, BRP 2002|
|1974||Doctor Ross||The Harmonica Boss||BEAR 2, Munich 150 201, INT 146.403, BRP 2013|
|Various Artists||American Blues Legends '74||BEAR 1, Munich 150 202|
|Eddie Taylor||Ready for Eddie||BEAR 6, Munich 150 203,INT 146.407|
|Cousin Joe||Gospel-Wailing...Blues Man from New Orleans||BEAR 3|
|Big John Wrencher||Big John's Boogie||BEAR 4, INT 146.402|
|1975||Mickey Baker||Take a Look Inside||BEAR 5, INT 146.408|
|Eddie "Guitar" Burns||Detroit Blackbottom||BEAR 7|
|Various Artists||American Blues Legends '75||BEAR 8|
|Willie Mabon||The Comeback||BEAR 9|
|Homesick James||Home Sweet Homesick James||BEAR 10|
|1976||Erwin Helfer||Boogie Piano Chicago Style||BEAR 11, INT 146.401, BRP 2003|
|Johnny Mars||Oakland Boogie||BEAR 12, INT 146.405|
|Clark Terry's Big Bad Band||Live on 57th Street||BEAR 13|
|Snooky Pryor||Shake Your Boogie||BEAR 14, INT 146.406, BRP 2033|
|Doctor Ross||Jivin' the Blues||BEAR 15, INT 146.409|
|Muscles||Muscles||BEAR 24, BB 1001, INT 161.400|
|1979||Various Artists||American Blues Legends '79||BEAR 23, INT 146.410|
|1980||Claude Williams||Kansas City Giants||BEAR 25|
|Various Artists||Brum Beat – Live at the Barrel Organ!||BRUM 1|
|1985||Various Artists||M&B Jam Session Volume 1||BEAR 26|
|1988||Various Artists||Mitchells and Butler's British Jazz Awards 1987||BEAR 27|
|Duncan Swift||Out Looking For The Lion||BEAR 28|
|Groove Juice Special||Groove Juice Comin' To Town||BEAR 29|
|King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys||King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys||BEAR 30|
|1990||Bill Allred's Goodtime Jazz Band||Swing That Music!||BEAR 31|
|King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys||This Is It!||BEAR 32|
|Lady Sings The Blues||Lady Sings The Blues||BEAR 33|
|1991||Duncan Swift||The Broadwood Concert||BEAR 34|
|King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys||Better Beware!||BEAR 35|
|1992||Bruce Adams Quartet||One Foot In The Gutter||BEARCD36|
|1993||King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys||Live At Ronnie Scotts Birmingham||BEARCD37|
|Bruce Adams/Alan Barnes Quintet||Side-Steppin'||BEARCD38|
|1994||Kenny Baker's Dozen||The Boss Is Home||BEARCD39|
|1995||King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys||Blues & Rhythm Revue, Vol 1||BEARCD40|
|Bruce Adams/Alan Barnes Quintet||Let's Face The Music||BEARCD41|
|1998||King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys||Smack Dab In The Middle||BEARCD42|
|2002||King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys||Let 'Em Roll||BEARCD43|
|2004||Alan Barnes' All Stars||The Marbella Jazz Suite||BEARCD44|
|2006||The Doctor Teeth Big Band||Rhythm Is Our Business||BEARCD45|
|King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys||Hey Puerto Rico!||BEARCD46|
|2007||Tipitina||I Wish I Was In New Orleans||BEARCD47|
|2009||Django's Castle with Bruce Adams||Swing Hotel du Vin||BEARCD48|
|Nomy Rosenberg Trio||Nomy Rosenberg Trio||BEARCD49|
|2010||King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys||Live At Last||BEARCD50|
|2012||Tipitina||Taking Care of Business||BEARCD51|
|The Will Johns Band||Hooks & Lines||BEARCD52|
|2015||The Whiskey Brothers||Bottle Up And Go||BEARCD54|
|2016||Lady Sings The Blues||Laughing At Life||BEARCD55|
|2017||Various Artists||Jazz City UK: Volume 1||BEARCD56|
|2018||Various Artists||Jazz City UK: Volume 2||BEARCD57|
|Howard McCrary||Moments Like This||BEARCD58|
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