Victoria Records • 23 year history • 1994 - 2017
The Victoria Company was started in St. Louis, Missouri in 1994 by William K. Becker. Bill, an incredible fan of jazz piano, and a student himself in college. Being retired and a music lover, he found himself traveling around to listen to the likes of Herb Drury, Ray Kennedy, Ralph Sutton, Carolbeth True etc. He founded Victoria Records with the desire to help the musicians he loved to listen to the most. He started providing the financial means to get them recorded.
In 1994, Bill happened upon my recording company Music Masters, in St. Louis, Missouri. We had already been in business since 1977 recording, producing and manufacturing music product. In those early days when Bill first showed his face, we were running 24/7 doing recording sessions, mixing, and mastering. We were producing 3 - 5 design and manufacturing jobs per week.
At first, Music Masters designed the artwork, and produced the final manufactured product for Victoria Records, while many artists would record in other studios. Then in 1997 Bill brought in a project to mix, then another to record, and Music Masters went on to handle the recording services on over half of his products, while manufacturing them all.
The Victoria Company produced 75 projects from 1994 - 2016. All from a retired structural engineer with a back of steel and a heart of gold. Quite a history. Quite a person. Bill never wanted to have a business, he just wanted to help. He has touched over 450 musicians hearts, minds and bank accounts and countless thousands of thirsty music lovers. In addition, many others benefited from Bill's generosity including; writers, photographers, engineers, arrangers, etc.
Bill never wanted gratitude or reward of any kind, but just to let the artists have the means to produce what they loved most. On our last release Steve Lilley said it best:
"When we were children, adults often assured us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. If true, Bill Becker must be mightily blessed. For years Bill has given generously to people. When he saw a need, he addressed it, & he did it without fanfare.
Some of us became Bill's beneficiaries because we were musicians. An avid jazz fan & pianist, Bill devoted much of his time & treasure to producing and preserving recordings of the music he loved. He founded Victoria Records and not only unearthed lost jazz recordings but hired musicians to record what they did best. Every time I recorded for Victoria, Bill gave my band & me total artistic freedom to produce the album as we desired.
For a long time, my colleagues & I have wanted to thank Bill publicly for his encouragement, respect, & generosity. He would have none of it. Now there is one more thing Bill can do for us. Accept our gratitude for all he has done for us, and so many others. To Bill Becker from those he blessed, Thanks!"
Greg Trampe, after 36+ years in the recording business gave up shop in St. Louis in 2013. After a couple of his best years ever, Greg retired from the hourly madness of retail recording and the 24/7 lifestyle. Now located in Cape Girardeau, Missouri as a production facility for only a select few projects per year.
Greg has been just crazy enough to except the daunting task of continuing Bill Becker's valient effort. 2017 brought the first project produced by The Victoria Company without Mr. Becker. The hope is to continue producing wonderful music that can be enjoyed by newer audiences for many years to come. The massive amount of product millennials have access to would blur most windows on a frosty day. Keeping the batch of grey matter employed between their all-consuming ears, will be a challenging task to say the least. Tougher still could be the educational curve in the listening collage of traditional styles such as these.
Victoria Records and Music Masters continuing mantra, "A bad note can be a good note when played perfectly at the right time!" – Greg Trampe
This quote was culminated from many sources during recording sessions over the years, including the most notables; Ray Kennedy and Andy Ploof (Music Folk) who both iterated quite ferociously to me these similar words, "At the time I must have thought it was a good note, or I wouldn't have played it, even though it may sound like a wrong note."