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The Birka Jazz Archive
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Various US labelsPart 1
ABC-PARAMOUNT was formed in 1955 by the media giant American Broadcasting-Paramount Theaters. The output of the label was pop, jazz and r&b. The first hit on the pop-market came with Paul Anka´s single Diana in 1957. Another success for the label was Ray Charles who left Atlantic for ABC-Paramount in 1959. His first hit for the label was Georgia On My Mind.
Already the second ABC album in 1955 was a jazz record - the Urbie Green LP, displayed among the pictures to the right. It was produced by Creed Taylor who came to ABC from the Bethlehem label. He produced almost all of the about 40-50 jazz albums that ABC-Paramount issued during the second half of 1950s.
Then Creed Taylor was the man behind the Impulse label, the edgy, experimental jazz subsidiary label that ABC-Paramount started in 1960. See the special Impulse page.
ALADDIN RECORDS was foun-
ded in Hollywood in 1946. They recorded mostly R&B, but also some jazz. In 1954 the subsidiary label Jazz West was started. Aladdin hung on into 1961. Then the label was sold to Imperial Records.
AMERICAN MUSIC was esta-
blished in the early 1940s by Bill Russell and operated from his home in New Orleans.
Russell was in the 1930s an avant-garde classical composer, inspiring John Cage among others. But he stopped composing after he had heard the jazz music of New Orleans, which he found more interesting than what he could write.
The American Music catalogue contained mostly New Orleans jazz by musicians such as Bunk Johnson and George Lewis. After the 78-era issues continued on LPs until 1957. Thereafter reissues was undertaken by the Danish Storyville label.
ARGO was established in 1956 in Chicago by the brothers Phil and Leonard Chess as subsidiary of their label Chess. The parent company was focused on blues, and Argo was intended for jazz.
About 150 LPs were issued into 1965. Argo then changed its name to Cadet after objections by the classic and longer-established record company Argo in England. Another c. 100 jazz LPs were issued in the second half of the 1960s.
In 1969 the Chess brothers sold the label and the entire catalogue to General Recorded Tape (GRT), which soon moved the company to New York. In october the same year Leonard Chess died. Records from both Chess and Cadet were still released in the 1970s, but under the new owner, Chess vanished as an important force in the recording industry.
BRUNSWICK was in the 1920s and 1930s one of the large American record companies. Their catalogue included artists such as Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday. In 1942 the Brunswick trademark was sold to American Decca and the label was in the 1940s used for reissues of early jazz. Companies using the Brunswick name also operated in several European countries.
Some few new jazz recordings for the label were issued by Decca in the 1950s and 1960s, along with recordings of popular music. Brunswick's significant as a jazz label ended in 1967 when MCA, which by that date owned American Decca, adopted a polycy of using its own name for issues outside the USA.
CAPITOL RECORDS was founded in Los Angeles by singer and songwriter Johnny Mercer in 1942, with the financial help of the big Los Angeles record store Music City, among others.
Capitol´s first release was a Paul Whiteman record, and the second was "Cow Cow Boogie" with Ella Mae Morse. The latter went quickly to number one on the hit parade.
Jazz formed a large part of the catalogue from the start, and Capitol became an important jazz label with artists like Nat King Cole, Stan Kenton, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington among others.
The company also sponsered the sessions by Miles Davis of 1949 that were later issued as The Birth of the Cool.
Capitol was the first West Coast label, competing with RCA Victor, Columbia and Decca, all based in New York. In the mid 1940s Capitol also had a studio in New York and was at that time established as one of the Big Six record labels.
In 1955 Capitol was purchased by the English company EMI. Soon afterward, EMI built a new studio in Hollywood - the famous circular building Capitol Tower.
The British management released other EMI recordings in the USA on the Capitol label, for example The Beatles recordings on Parlophone. But the American management continued to operate the company autonomously, and to orginize new recordings.
Cannonball Adderley was one of the company's most important musicians during the 1960s and early 1970s. Thereafter new jazz recordings decreased in number.
COMMODORE was founded in 1938 by Milt Gabler, owner of the Commodore Music Shop in New York.
Commodore Music Shop
Among others Lester Young and Billie Holiday recorded for the label in the early 1940s. In the 1950s the label was used by Decca for reissuing earlier jazz recordings on LP.
CORAL RECORDS was formed in 1949 as a subsidiary label of Decca Records. A&R manager was Bob Thiele, in the 1960s known for running the Impulse Records. Various jazz artists were issued on Coral, otherwise the label is remembered for its recordings of the legendary rock&roll singer Buddy Holly.
DAWN RECORDS was started in 1954 as a sub label to Seeco Records (latin music). Dawn´s output was primarily jazz, but recorded also pop and folk music. Around 20 jazz LPs were issued until 1958.
DECCA was established in England in 1929. Five years later an American branch of Decca was founded, which quickly developed a substantial jazz catalogue.
The US Decca soon became wholly independent and the link with the British company was broken for several decades.
Already in 1932 the Brunswick label was bought by Decca. It continued to work as a subsidiary label for both US and British Decca. Another subsidiary label used by the American Decca, was Coral.
In the 1950s, Decca used a black label with silver printing. 1960 it was changed to a black label with a rainbow stripe.
Recordings by the American Decca were in the 1950s issued in England by the London label (subsidary of British Decca). Older recordings from American Decca, Brunswick and Vocalion were in the 1960s issued on the British Decca's subsidiary Ace of Hearts.
DEE GEE was formed in 1951 by Dizzy Gillsespie and a friend, Dave Usher. The label was not long-lived, but issued some few 10" LPs and around 10 EPs. The label was taken over by Savoy Records in 1953.
DISCOVERY was established in New York in the late 1940s by Albert Marx. The label was headquarted in Hollywood in the early 1950s and issued recordings by Art Pepper, Charles Mingus and Dizzy Gillespie among others.
Several of the company´s early masters were sold to Savoy, and the company´s activity declained in the 1950s. But Albert Marx returned with Discovery in the 1980s and started a reissue program. Later he sold the company once again. In the 1990s Discovery was refashioned into a fully contemporary label in the Warner Music Group.
DOOTONE was started in 1951 in Los Angeles by Walter "Dootsie" Williams. The company was recorded all kind of popular music including comedy and jazz. The label name was changed to DOOTO in 1957 and it survived into the 1970s.
DOT RECORDS was founded in Gallatin, Tennessee, in 1950 by Randy Wood. It soon moved to Hollowood but continued to record local artists from across the USA and issued them nationally. The recordings were mostly country, r&b and pop, but also some jazz. The label was sold to Paramount in 1957.
Continued next page
Various US labels (2)
Kenny Dorham & The Jazz Prophets
Label: ABC-Paramount 122 12" LP 1956
Various US labels ( 1 )
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