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Jazz > Labels

The Jazz Labels Compendium

What is the purpose of this group of pages?

  • Assume the interim function to document jazz labels in MusicBrainz, as long as we don't have label entries in the system
  • Help editors (who do work on labels and catalogs # in releases annotations) to quickly find what they need
  • Be a field of experiment to help determine what exactly we expect from "real" labels entries in the system

As such, the following pieces of data are found in this page:

  • alphabetically sorted flat list of labels
  • hierarchical list of labels (reflecting the "who bought who" structure)

And each individual label page provides the following:

  • official web site, WikiPedia page and/or discographic work site about it
  • label activity details (production type, name of the founding members, period of activity, subsidiaries)
  • current status (now belong to, top parent company, distributed by)
  • trivia
  • catalog, possibly linking to the releases in MusicBrainz

Ultimate Goal

Ultimately, label / catalog# should be database entries (this is apparently in the cooker). Labels should be entities (like artists) on which we could have both advanced relationships and annotations (that would allow most of what is documented here).


Not only this is work in progress, but it's also experimental, is not the result of a discussion/consensus, and is the work of a unique editor (hence reflects his very personal opinions).

So data (may/will/could) change quickly, and the whole organization of it may be rehauled.

Introductory Note


Jazz golden era is probably 45-70.

The 70s period resort mainly to Free Jazz, while the pre-40s period, although very interesting, somewhat lacks recorded material (most of what's available being reissued in anthologies by specialized labels).

There's of course a modern jazz, both by (quite old now) veterans, and by talented newcomers, but this is Yllona Richardson's territories - so she might talk about that better than me.

During a period (I would say until the 90s), labels buying other labels tend to reissue the bought catalogs under their own name (Fantasy reissues used the name Original Jazz Classics).

Recently though, now that all is left is "the 4 big ones" (Universal's Verve Music Group, the EMI Group, the Warner Music Group, Sony BMG), and the little one (Concord Music Group), such holdings tend to reissue stuff under the original label name, or even produce new stuff under that name, which of course are not to be confused with the "historical" labels/periods.

Editing notes

  • "Country" should be 2 letter iso codes.
  • "Production type" should be: original, reissue, bootleg (or combination of these, using slash as separators), or holding
  • Maybe "founded by" could point to /Jazz/People/NameOfTheBuddy (as we can't create them in the db...)?
  • Any mention of another label should link to the corresponding page, even if it doesn't exist yet
  • You should link catalog entries to the corresponding releases in MusicBrainz. If you do so, please backlink the label name in the release annotation to the wiki page.

Editing ressources

Labels List (hierarchical)



Independent labels

Bootlegs labels

Labels List (flat)























For a time, I used to push all label data on one page, which has quickly proved unmanageable. Below are the remains of this attempt, waiting to be properly migrated in the new one-label/one-page architecture.

Quick Find Me

This section mention labels names, country of origin, historical period of activity, off-sites links, and mentions bootleg.

Major Labels

Label Name/Site Country Active Period Sold to Discographic ressources Subsidiaries Comment
Capitol (wp) USA 1942-? EMI (1955) Made a career out of messing records
Columbia (wp) USA 1888-? Sony (1988) BothSides
Contemporary (wp) USA 1951-1984 Fantasy (1984) JD.com
EmArcy (wp) USA 1954-1962 Verve Music Group JD.com JD.org Replaced by Limelight, then revived 80s
ESP (wp) USA 1966-? JD.com Shut Dormant and/or "distributed" by dubious european thingies (Axaras, GetBack!), the label came back to life in 2005
Dial (wp) USA 1946- ??? JD.com JD.org Not to be confused with other Dial companies
Vocalion Records (wp) USA/UK 1916-1940 Brunswick Records (1925) Revived in the 50s as a budget label, and in 1997 as a reissue label (material from Decca and EMI). Alternate site
Enja DE 1971 Stuff JD.com
Fantasy (wp) USA 1949- Concord Debut Records, Good Time, Prestige (1971), Riverside, Milestone (1972), Stax Records (1977), Contemporary (1984), Specialty Records (1991), Pablo (1987), Takoma Records, Kicking Mule Records (1995) Gobbled a good number of jazz label, which were cd reissued in the 80s90s under the collection/label name Original Jazz Classics (apparently on mondays during 85-95)
Gennet Records (wp) USA 1917-1934 Decca Records (1935) Oldies from the 20s
Impulse! (wp) USA 1960-late 70s Verve Music Group JD.com Now a reissue label. Has been shortly revived for new stuff though.
Liberty Records (wp) USA 1955-? EMI (?) Pacific Jazz (1957), Blue Note (1965) A complicated history also...
Limelight wp USA X JD.com Mercury subsidiary
Milestone (wp) USA 1966-1972 Fantasy JD.com Reissued stuff from Gennett Records
Mercury (wp) USA (UK now) 1945- Verve Group JD.org Blue Rock Records, Cumberland Records, EmArcy Records, Fontana Records, Limelight Records, Philips Records, Smash Records and Wing Records
Original Jazz Classics (wp) USA 1983- Is a sub/collection of Fantasy Reissued on cd most stuff owned by OJC in the 80s-90s
Pablo (wp) USA 1973 Fantasy (1987) JD.com JD.org Fantasy continued to use the name to release stuff after 1987
Prestige (wp) USA 1949-1971 Fantasy (1971) Plosin JD.org Used funny coll. names like Swingsville, Bluesville, Moodsville, and "New Jazz" The junkies label
Riverside wp USA 1953-1963 Fantasy (1972) JD.com JD.org
Verve (wp) USA 1956 MGM (1961) -> Polygram -> Universal (=Verve Music Group) JD.com JD.org Norgran Records, Clef Records, Mercury/EmArcy
[Savoy USA] wp USA 1942-?1980? Bop catalog sold to Arista Records (1974) JD.com JD.org