Its Official – Concord Records Buys Fantasys Music Operation

Concord Records has announced that they have completed their purchase of the record labels and music catalog of Fantasy Inc. of Berkeley, California. Concord’s purchase of the music portion of Fantasy has been rumored for some time, but officials at both firms have remained mum about the purchase until this week. The news of the purchase comes just days after Fantasy released 8 new Hybrid Stereo and Mono SACD discs this Tuesday.

The Concord Music Group
As part of the purchase, a new record company known as Concord Music Group, Inc. will be formed. The current management and owners of Concord Records (Norman Lear and Hal Gaba) will “remain substantial shareholders” in the new company according to a statement released by Concord. Funding for the purchase was provided in part by Tailwind Capital Partners, a “leading private equity investment firm”, which may also obtain a share of ownership in the new firm.

A Logical Connection
The purchase of Fantasy’s music operations by Concord Records is a logical one since both labels own an extensive catalog of Jazz and Adult Contemporary music. Fantasy also owns the impressive catalog of the former Stax and Volt labels as well as the pop best sellers by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Concord notes that “Fantasy owns one of the world’s largest and most prestigious catalogs of jazz, blues, R&B and rock music, including certain music publishing assets and legendary recordings by John Coltrane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Ella Fitzgerald, Vince Guaraldi, Isaac Hayes, Little Richard, Albert King, Thelonious Monk, Joe Pass, Art Pepper, Otis Redding, Sonny Rollins, and numerous others. Fantasy also owns and operates the world-class Fantasy Recording Studios in Berkeley, California. Following the merger, the Concord Music Group will be one of the foremost adult-focused recorded music companies in the world.

Fantasy, Inc. is home of one of the largest and most prestigious collections of jazz and blues music in the world. The label’s first artist was Dave Brubeck, and recordings by Cal Tjader, Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker, Vince Guaraldi (whose “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is a perennial seasonal best-seller), Mongo Santamaria and John Lee Hooker soon followed. In 1968, just one year after Fantasy was purchased by Saul Zaentz, currently Fantasy’s Chairman and a triple Academy Award-winning film producer, Creedence Clearwater Revival released its debut recording. Within 18-months, the band scored no fewer than 20 Hot 100 singles and nine consecutive top 10 singles in the U.S; eventually they would become one of the most successful four-man Rock N’ Roll bands of all time, earning at least 21 RIAA-certified gold or platinum records.”

Players In The SACD Market & Future Plans
Both Concord Records and Fantasy have been key players in the SACD market. Concord has released over 35 titles in Hybrid SACD Surround Sound discs since 2003 with many coming from their rich catalog of Jazz music. However, their best known release in recent months has been the final album recorded by Ray Charles entitled Genius Loves Company which features Charles in duet performances with a host of well known recording stars.

Fantasy had initially licensed some of their Jazz, Pop and Stax/Volt catalog titles to labels including Analogue Productions and Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs for release on Hybrid Stereo and Mono SACDs. Last year the label elected to begin releasing Hybrid Stereo and Mono Super Audio CDs themselves.

In fact, earlier this week, Fantasy added 8 more Hybrid SACDs to their catalog, bringing the total of their SACD catalog releases to 43 titles. The new SACDs from Fantasy (now available from several web sites that carry SACDs including Acoustic Sounds, Elusive Disc and Music Direct) this week included these discs:

  • Benny Carter – Jazz Giant (Contemporary CSA-7555-6)
  • Art Pepper – Gettin’ Together! (Contemporary CSA-7573-6)
  • Stan Getz & Cal Tjader – Sextet (Fantasy FSA-3266-6)
  • Gerry Mulligan & Thelonious Monk – Mulligan Meets Monk (Riverside RISA-1106-6)
  • Bobby Timmons – This Here Is (Riverside RISA-1164-6)
  • Nat Adderly – Work Song (Riverside RISA-1167-6)
  • Milt Jackson & Wes Montgomery – Bags Meets Wes! (Riverside RISA-9407-6)
  • Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers – Caravan (Riverside RISA-9438-6)

    As for their SACD plans in the future, we’ll have to await an official word from Concord Records on that. But we have heard industry talk that future SACDs from the combined label would likely follow Concord’s past practice of releasing these titles in Hybrid SACDs that featured both newly remixed Surround Sound tracks and SACD Stereo tracks rather than Fantasy’s practice of releasing catalog titles in Hybrid SACD Stereo only. We’ll see if that talk becomes reality in the months ahead.