A Mecca for Oscar Peterson, George Duke, the Singers Unlimited, and a host of talented young European discoveries: MPS. Situated in Villingen, in Germany’s Black Forest region, for some two decades MPS Records and studios wrote pioneering jazz history through its high-level recording technique and unmistakable aesthetic. Today the “most perfect sound made in the Black Forest” continues to light up the ears of analogue fans worldwide. A historical sketch.
The label’s actual birth was in 1968, but it had a colorful prelude that entails the famous initials HGBS. As co-owner of the electronics manufacturer SABA, Industrialist Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer (HGBS) was not only an ardent audio engineer; he was also an amateur pianist who was crazy about music. In 1958 he built a recording studio above the living room in his villa. It contained the most sophisticated audio equipment available at that time. When Oscar Peterson came to Zurich to perform a concert in 1961, Brunner-Schwer lured Peterson to his villa, and the first house concert in the Black Forest. The Canadian was so impressed by HGBS’s recording of the concert (“I never heard myself like this before…”), that he decided to come back every year for a another living room session. Meanwhile, starting in 1963 HGBS began to produce records under the label name SABA. The recordings included pianists Wolfgang Dauner and Horst Jankowski. George Duke also appeared as guest for the first time in 1966. When Brunner-Schwer left SABA in 1968, he founded MPS (Musik Produktion Schwarzwald (Black Forest)) Records. The Peterson recordings were the first release under the new name – this became possible since Peterson had finished his contract with Verve. It was the beginning of an illustrious catalogue which contained over 500 releases by 1982.