Sam Records and Saga Launch new ARTISAN Record Series Aimed at Jazz and Art Lovers

From the Sam Records press release:

“By the late 1940s, the emergence of vinyl records created new opportunities for graphic artists to express their talent. The new 12'' square format seemed particularly suitable for experimentation and many labels became reputed for their innovative designs. Amazingly gifted artists such as David Stone Martin, Jim Flora, Pierre Merlin, Burt Goldblatt or Reid Miles, to name just a few, made a name for themselves illustrating or designing jazz record covers.

ARTISAN will reissue some of the rare and beautiful records that have made the fine days of the vinyl era. We will also issue previously unreleased recordings by some of the greatest performers of blues and jazz.

Every album cover will be manually screen-printed, making each record a unique object. Screen printing is well known to provide vivid colors and refined details, and we have selected the best inks and papers to produce the highest quality record covers possible. The print run for each album will be limited to 300 copies and there will be no repress.

In addition to the fine cover prints, ARTISAN will bring the same level of quality as our previous Sam Records / Saga releases, including meticulous sound restoration, 180g pressing and booklets with photos and liners.”

The first album in the limited to 300 numbered copies series is Donald Byrd’s Byrd Jazz, (Transition TRLP 5), which was the trumpeter's very first recording.

The Transition Tapes label was started by producer Tom Wilson upon his mid 1950s graduation from Harvard. Wilson eventually became Columbia Records’ first black producers and is best known for producing Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel (Wilson added the electrified backing to “Sounds of Silence” without Paul Simon’s knowledge) and of course while at Verve, The Mothers of Invention and The Velvet Underground. But previous to that he released on his own label the first recordings by both Sun Ra and Cecil Taylor. Unfortunately, in 1957 Transition folded and Wilson moved on to United Artists where he produced albums by Benny Golson, Booker Little, Art Farmer and more Cecil Taylor (with sideman John Coltrane). Wilson had a heart attack and died in 1978 at age 47.

Sam Records' packaging and presentation are always deluxe but here the label has outdone itself. The jacket is exquisitely presented and includes a booklet explaining the recording's significance and more useful background.

For more information about ARTISAN Records and to order go to The Sam Records website.

To watch how the jackets are being hand-printed go to this YouTube channel:

Grant M's picture

100 euros plus 40 euros for shipping? made my decision easier to pass.

audiof001's picture

The quantity of this release is laughable and the sick screened covers will scratch like crazy. Pass.

Anton D's picture

What will the covers scratch up?

davip's picture

more Jazz records. Just what audiophilia needs -- and overpriced too for a refreshing change.

Anton D's picture

So, a jazz recording you have no interest in and you think it costs too much.

Are you upset that you can't decide not to buy it at a lower price?

seeking sublime's picture

100 euros for this reissue just supports the mindset of gouging vinyl purchasers everywhere. We should not put up with it and the most direct way is with our wallets. Should they charge more for the screened cover, etc? Sure. 100 euros? Crazy. Expand it from 300 copies to, say, 1500 and lower that price to, what, 40 euros?

Continuing to gouge vinyl buyers will just result in more DAC sales...

Grant M's picture

1500 hand screened jackets is a big job

seeking sublime's picture

My thought was that at 100 euros for the album and 40 euros for shipping, these are priced to appeal to a small subset of vinyl listeners. The article mentioned that there would be no repress. If you feel the need to charge 100 euros, then at least offer a (12-month later?) repress, with a less-fancy cover for substantially less.

I've spent a lot on vinyl (and related gear), but for 140 euros, I would expect something, I dunno, historically significant... As it stands, it's 'here's something nice for 300 of you - the rest can take a hike'

Grant M's picture

I like your take on this. The problem I have is that when some company gets to reissue a title, that's usually it for that one for quite some time. So we won't expect another label to do it any time soon. So in this case it takes it off the table for another label to do a reasonably priced version. My pet peeve is that i really like to collect by label, and would love many of these Transition records to be done by someone like Analogue Productions, with great mastering, nice jackets, and a high quality pressing for a reasonable price like $35US. Instead we get one off's, and vanity projects. it's not the way it should be for fans of the vinyl format.

Soul Captain's picture
PMO's picture

Sam Record releases are uniformly outstanding. In terms of quality of music, pressing and packaging they never disappoint. While the price is steep, I am inclined to trust them on this one. Some would pay this much for a good bottle of scotch, and that will not last for nearly as long :-) Mike, I would love to see you do a video overview of Sam Records' catalogue of releases some time!

Michael Fremer's picture
Good idea! And while I'm at it, I don't understand all of the comments negativity under this post. No one is forcing anyone to buy anything. This is a high quality product, a limited edition undertaking and it's priced as Sam Records sees fit. End of story IMO.
davip's picture

companies who see an opportunity to gouge the buyer, pricing as they "...see fit", are injurious to the continuity and prosperity of vinyl records as a music medium, pushing the thesis that it's a niche-interest for moneyed, jazz-loving old men. Any 'exclusivity' here is entirely derived as they're only releasing a few and thus tell you that they must be priced high because they're a 'limited edition'. They should take care that the "End of story" isn't theirs...

isaacrivera's picture

Price gouging means jack up the price opportunistically regardless of actual cost and value. Just because a product is more expensive that does not mean its price is gouged. Companies need to make a profit and how much that is is not simply a matter of cost of materials. The cost of production including fair wages for those involved in it is important. Storage and scale, shipping and infrastructure overhead. When you are offered something of value that has a cost, increasing price accordingly is not gouging. Just because you can't or do not want to afford it is not a good reason for that description. Specially gouging can't really be used to describe optional commodities. You can gouge the price of rice because many depend on it, but if the market decides the price for an LP is too high, nobody has to buy it. Be that as it may...

The asking price for an original press of this record in VG condition is $900.00 in Discogs and there is only 1 available. SAM's reissues are extraordinary and hands down sound better than the original. Hand made silkscreened art and a fine book with fine printed photographs all of which rights have to be paid for and cost money to produce. All for $150 shipped is a fair price.

If you do not like the price of leather seats on your new car, do not pay for them, but do not argue that they should been included at a loss. There are plenty of $20 Wax Time LP reissues from CD with xeroxed artwork. They are spending nothing on licenses and art rights, they are not spending on fine production craftsmanship or materials and they are passing the savings to you. Go buy those.

Anton D's picture

High prices made it so that nobody buys fine wine any more.

These jazz loving old men are a menace to the hobby and must be stopped.

Oh, wait, you're that guy who also thinks young people are a menace to the hobby: "Agreed -- bringing 11-yr-olds into the editorial of a magazine (online or otherwise) is, if not necessarily questionable, then certainly something that the Editor-proper of this site should have kept oversight on. He hasn't done so and I likewise switch-off when I see this name on the header, as his inexperienced input is an embarrassment to this site."

So, dude, you don't like young popular music critics and you don't like old jazz-loving audiophiles.

This is you: "...exclusively-rock listener (to non-S/H vinyl) that is me."

Damn, a guy who only buys new rock records. No second hand, hates jazz, doesn't like Malachi's reviewing new releases, doesn't like "moneyed old" audiophiles.

That being said, I do relate to the price creep, in vinyl and in electronics. I have had my "yelling at a cloud" moments, as well!

Cheers, mate.

ChrisM's picture

Fantastic artwork, I'll definively check this one.

Mezzanine5's picture

Amazing the effort put in by people just to say they're not going to buy it. Taking my cue from the angry mob I started to email every commercial business in the UK to tell them that I didn't want to buy their goods or services but quickly got bored and decided to add a comment here.

I guess looking at this as a value proposition makes no sense ,music and art provokes an emotional not a fiscal response. I can spend 100 euros going to see a football match (although, sadly, not at the moment) or I can blow it on a poker game. I can spend a £1000 buying the silk screen print in the link below.

100 euro's for a great recording produced by a great one man business with an fantastic track record of quality and service is ok to me but you'll never persuade the naysayers. Buying terrible re-issues for $20 that sound no better than a cheap CD seems like far more of a waste.

punkzter's picture

I won't be buying this particular record (I know that everyone cares to know that). But SAM records is a great label. I have purchased 12 of their releases and have been impressed with the quality of every release. They are trying something out here, there's no harm in that.

marmaduke's picture

has obviously been observing the success of The Electric Recording Company's model of rare well recorded performances, limited editions, meticulous reissues, and premium prices.
Almost every ERC title sells out very quickly.

One may dispute the significance of this title. However as was already mentioned it is very rare.

Given that the typical ERC title preorder price is roughly $430 plus $30 for next day shipping, SAM seems to have had relative 'value' in mind rather than gouging when determining their price point.

When I consider the dubious titles remastered from who knows what that I have impulsively purchased during past RSDs which in total cost far more than the asking price of this SAM release (including shipping) this record looks to be a relative bargain.

Like all my other Sam releases I am certain that this record will sound terrific!

xtcfan80's picture

So....Ferrari, Lamborghini and the Porsche GT3 being expensive "are injurious to the continuity and prosperity of" automobiles?...Don't buy what you aren't interested in and be glad AP is offering a wide range of vinyl related news.

Emu-72's picture

The consistent use of the phrase “price gouging” here is a bit dramatic.
First off, they’re not selling marked up water or food in the midst of some sort of natural disaster.
It’s a meticulously printed artsy cover and what I assume, based on previous experience with Sam records, a fantastic pressing of a rare record. And it costs 100 Euros. And well packaged, with tracking and insurance, delivery from France is 40 Euros. Scoff if you must, then move on! People thinking this hobby somehow owes them something, if that were the case they’d call it a job.

rl1856's picture

I assume this a a "AAA" reissue, without any digital in the chain, correct ?

Price Gouging ? Hardly. Gouging is when someone arbitrarily raises the price of an item in response to local demand. Is there a high quality alternative available ? A First Pressing is a $500+ investment. There is a Japanese reissue that was released in the 80's and is about as common as a first pressing. The owner of SAM is not getting rich from this release: 300 copies x $100 = $30,000. The owner has to pay licensing fees, remaster and pressing charges, production costs for the cover, and labor. This is not a path to independent wealth. Don't like the business model ? Blame the market, not the vendor. I am probably not a buyer, but I don't begrudge the seller.