MAXJAZZ Label Owner Rich McDonnell Dies at 68

St. Louis label has released more than 75 albums

Richard “Rich” McDonnell, founder and owner of the MAXJAZZ record label, died Feb. 8 in St. Louis, Mo. He had suffered a stroke Friday while watching a concert at St. Louis’ Jazz at the Bistro featuring Houston Person and the Bill Charlap Trio. McDonnell was hospitalized but passed away the next day. He was 68.

Richard McDonnell
Mulgrew Miller, Richard McDonnell and Russell Malone

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“Richard was a friend to every person he met, and will be remembered for his love and warm spirit, genuine interest in others, his beaming smile, and larger-than-life presence,” said his son Clayton, in an emailed statement. “He enjoyed a 30-year career with A.G. Edwards, and for the last 15 years, lived his true passion, as founder of the MAXJAZZ record label. To his core, Richard was a lover and champion of jazz and its artists.”

Clayton McDonnell, who helped his father run the company, added, “My brothers and I were with him at his bedside and had our recordings playing in the background when he passed peacefully.”

McDonnell founded the label in 1998 after a career in investment banking. He retired early from that job to run the label full-time. Among the artists who have recorded for MAXJAZZ are Mulgrew Miller, Terell Stafford, Russell Malone, Peter Martin, Erin Bode and Carla Cook. MAXJAZZ has released more than 75 albums.

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