about us

Black Jazz Records was introduced to the public in the early 70’s by Mr. Dick Schory & Gene Russell. As A&R Mr. Russell recognized the need for a jazz music record label which would produce and distribute quality recordings targeted toward the growing market of African Spiritual Jazz.

In it's heyday, Black Jazz Records represented a new and fresh alternative to traditional jazz, embodying the spirit of the black/urban awakening of the civil rights period. During it's six year existence, the record label made a major impact on the jazz world, both domestically and in foreign territories.

The Black Jazz roster consisted of ten
superior instrumentalists and vocalists that included:

Gene Russell - Piano
Rudolph Johnson - Saxophone
Calvin Keys - Guitar
Walter Bishop, Jr. - Piano
Chester Thompson - Organ
Henry Franklin - Bass
Doug Carn - Piano, Organ, Keyboards
Jean Carn - Vocalist
Kellee Paterson - Vocalist
The Awakening - Instrumental Group


These artists were supported by a cast of some of America’s most respected jazz musicians. It's most successful act, Doug and Jean Carn recorded three albums embodying several of the most spectacular vocal performances of the era. Doug Carn sold more records than Dave Brubeck and Ramsey Lewis (According to 1974 Billboard Magazine). However, due the fact that Doug’s demo (Infant Eyes) was turned down by the major labels, a great number of jazz fans and music lovers were unaware of his accomplishments. Be that as it may, those on the inside of the black awareness scene admired and thrived on his style and conception. Jean Carn would go on to become an award winning R&B recording artist with the legendary Philadelphia International Records label. In 1976, after the untimely death of it's founder and after the demise of it's distributor, Black Jazz Records ceased operations. However, it left behind a proven catalogue of inspirational jazz music which had never been made publicly available on the digital technology of the compact disc.

word from the president...

In 1986 I began my quest to own and reactivate Black Jazz Records. I knew that the original owner had passed, so I set out to bring Black Jazz Records to life. It was on my mind 24 hours a day, I was constantly thinking how I could acquire the icon label. I moved from my home in Oakland, California to Atlanta, Georgia and opened Red Beans and Rice Records in 1993. While in business, this beautiful young lady walked in the store and began browsing through the albums. While browsing she came across the album “Infant Eyes”. She walked to the counter and said, “That’s me.” I responded in question and she identified herself as the baby in the album cover picture. She also noted that her mother and father were also in the picture. What a shock! Actually meeting the daughter of Doug and Jean Carn. When I asked if her father was still living, she said "Yes, and he’s currently living in Florida. " She gave me his telephone number, and I called a week later to find the number no longer in service. I never saw the young lady again after our encounter.

A year later a freak accident happened. A car ran through my store doing 50 MPH, damaging the building severely. It forced me to relocate the business across town, which turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me! My employee received a call rom a Gentleman, who said he was the owner of Black Jazz. I immediately returned the call and asked him his call intentions. He asked if I knew of a label that was interested in reissuing the titles from the Black Jazz’s catalog. I responded that I was; I also asked him if he was interested in selling the label. He responded “Possibly.” I asked himi where he was currently living, and the location he told me was less than two blocks away from my store. What a coincidence! A month later he informed me that he was interested in selling the label. We worked out a deal, and a month after that I was the proud owner of Black Jazz Records.

It is now my intent to reactivate Black Jazz Records to reissue all of the catalog albums domestically and internationally on CD and vinyl, and to sign and record new and established recording artists whose musical direction is consistent with the spirit of positively and African-American Awareness through music



James Hardge
President Black Jazz Records

 
 
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