OKeh Revived as Jazz Label
Posted 1/14/2013

Sony Classical has relaunched its OKeh label as a jazz imprint and will release several titles in 2013, beginning with John Medeski’s A Different Time on April 9, followed by a collaboration from David Sanborn and Bob James in May, as well as forthcoming titles by Dhafer Youssef and the Bill Frisell Big Sur Quintet.

Medeski is best known as the pianist/keyboardist in Medeski Martin & Wood. The trio’s most recent disc is the live album Free Magic (Indirecto), released in September.

James—a pianist whose career stretches back to work in the late ’60s with singer Sarah Vaughan—and Sanborn—a versatile saxophonist who has recorded in numerous genres—won a Grammy in the category Best Jazz Fusion Performance, Vocal Or Instrumental for their 1986 collaboration Double Vision (Warner Bros.).

A Sony Classical press release stated that the goal of the revived OKeh label is to document “Global Expressions in Jazz.”

“What I want to achieve with OKeh is to build a home for jazz and jazz-related music of the highest quality, no matter what its origins are,” said Wulf Müller, an industry veteran who recently joined Sony Classical as an exclusive jazz A&R and marketing consultant, and who conceived the label’s re-launch. “‘Global Expressions in Jazz’ will mean improvised music from all over the world being used as a global language to communicate between lovers of music. We hope to create a label that will define the present and future of the music we call jazz.”

Founded in 1918, OKeh initially became famous for recording artists in the classic jazz and blues traditions, including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, King Oliver and Sidney Bechet.

Müller said, “OKeh’s tradition as a label for great improvised music of its time, its connection to some of the most influential artists in the genres of jazz and blues, made it the perfect label for us to use, as its history already stands for what we are aiming for: quality in all aspects of the recordings and giving today’s artists a platform to express themselves, while at the same time opening doors to the future.”

In the United States, OKeh will be part of Sony Masterworks, Sony Classical’s U.S. branch. Sony Masterworks comprises the Masterworks, Masterworks Broadway, OKeh, Portrait, RCA Red Seal and Sony Classical imprints. For more information on these labels, visit the Sony Masterworks website.

Bobby Reed


John Medeski

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