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Debut Records


Debut Records

Artist-operated jazz label
Mingus & Roach

DEBUT RECORDS was founded in 1952 by Charles Mingus, his wife Celia and Max Roach. The label was an experiment and an attempt to avoid the compromises of working for major companies. It was the first reasonably long-lived artist-operated jazz label of the 1950s.

    Charles Mingus   Photo: Bob Parent

Before the story ended in 1957 the recording activity of Debut led to more than 35 sessions, resulting in twelve 78s, two EPs, seventeen 10" LPs and nine 12" LPs.

The first LP album was a duo recording with Charles Mingus and pianist Spaulding Givens. The second was the famous Massey Hall recordings in 1953. Other highlights are considered to be the Kenny Dorham session; the first and second outlets of Thad Jones; the Miles Davis session and the Cafe Bohemia gig of the Charles Mingus Quintet.

In 1955-56 Charles Mingus and Max Roach had become established leaders and they were more involved with their musical careers than to operate a record company. So gradually the Debut label faltered. An additional reason was that the two partners also had differences about the way they would run the company.

Kept alive in Denmark

During the last years of the 1950s, the Debut catalogue kept alive in Denmark by Ole Vestegaard, who had leased the company´s catalogue from Charles Mingus. Later on Vestegaard started to produce recordings on his own. About these albums on the Danish Debut, see the Denmark page.

The American Debut was purchased by Fantasy Records in the early 1960s.

BOB PARENT was a New York-based photographer whose images appeared regulary in magazines such as Life and Downbeat, in books like "Jazz Is" by Nat Hentoff, and on album covers for labels as Prestige, Debut, Bethlehem and Savoy.

He spent countless nights in the dimly lit jazz clubs of Boston and New York, and developed ingenious ways to sidestep the use of flash in order to avoid disturbing performers. Bob Parent's subjects also include sporting events, theater, politicians and New York and Boston city life.

 Kenny Dorham Quintet   Label: Debut DLP-9   10" LP 1954   Photo: Bob Parent

Debut Records

 Charles Mingus - Spaulding Givens: Strings and Keys  Label: Debut DLP-1   10" LP 1953
 The first LP from Debut Records

 The Quintet: Jazz at Massey Hall  Label: Debut DLP-2   10" LP 1953
 Design: Arnaud Maggs

 Bud Powell: Jazz at Massey Hall  Label: Debut DLP-3   10" LP 1953
 Photo: Herman Leonard

 J.J. Johnson a.o.: Jazz Workshop  Label: Debut DLP-5   10" LP 1953
 Photo: Herman Leonard

 Introducing Paul Bley  Label: Debut DLP-7   10" LP 1954   Design: Bill Spilka

 Oscar Pettiford: The New Sextet   Label: Debut DLP-8   10" LP 1953
 Design: Bill Spilka :  Photo: Herman Leonard


 Charles Mingus Octet  Label: Debut EP-450   7" EP 1954   Design: Gene Bilbrew

 The Max Roach Septet  Label: Debut EP-451   7" EP 1954   Design: Bill Spilka

 Sam Most Quartet Plus Two  Label: Debut DLP-11   10" LP 1954   Photo: Bob Parent

 The fabulous Thad Jones   Label: Debut DLP-12   10" LP 1954
 Design: Bill Spilka   Photo: Hugh Bell

 Max Roach Quartet featuring Hank Mobley   Label: Debut DLP-13   10" LP 1955
 Design: Bill Spilka

 Hazel Scott: Relaxed Piano Moods  Label: Debut DLP-16   10" LP 1955

 Charles Mingus - Thad Jones: Jazz Collaborations  Label: Debut DLP-17   10" LP 1955
 Photo: Cork

 Miles Davis: Blue Moods   Label: Debut DEB-120  12" LP 1955
 Design and photo: Bob Parent

 John La Porta: Three Moods  Label: Debut DEB-122   10" LP 1954   Design: Kiriki

 Charles Mingus: Mingus at the Bohemia   Label: Debut DEB-123   123" LP 1955
 Photo: Bob Parent

 The Quintet: Jazz at Massey Hall   Label: Debut DEB-124  12" LP 1956
 Photo: Bob Parent

 Thad Jones  Label: Debut DEP-127   12" LP 1958