Contemporary Records was a jazz record company and label founded by Lester Koenig in Los Angeles in 1951. Contemporary produced music from a variety of jazz styles and players.
In the mid 1960s the company fell into relative limbo, but limited new recordings were made in the late 1970s, including a series of albums by Art Pepper recorded at the Village Vanguard club in New York. After Les Koenig's death in 1977, the label was run for seven years by his son, John, who produced albums by George Cables, Joe Farrell, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Peter Erskine, and Chico Freeman.
In 1984 Contemporary was purchased by Fantasy Records, which used the name for a short time. Most Contemporary titles were reissued by Fantasy. Also, some titles have found new life among today's audiophiles as high-quality LP remasters from Analogue Productions and other audiophile labels. The Fantasy catalog, including Contemporary and its associated labels, Good Time Jazz Records, Society for Forgotten Music, and Contemporary Composers Series, was sold to Concord Records in 2004.
Over the years, a number of major figures in the music business worked for Contemporary. Among them were Atlantic Records executive Nesuhi Ertegun, writers Nat Hentoff and Leonard Feather, producer Joe Boyd, recording engineer and studio designer Howard Holzer, and mastering engineer Bernie Grundman.