01/10/13

Sony Classical to Relaunch OKeh Records as Jazz Label

First releases will include Bill Frisell, John Medeski, and David Sanborn & Bob James

Sony Classical has announced the re-launch of the dormant OKeh label, which will serve as a home for new jazz releases by both new and established artists. Under the banner “Global Expressions in Jazz,” OKeh will focus, according to a press release, on “artists that have a wide range of global backgrounds.” Initial releases during the first half of 2013 will include new music from by Bill Frisell, David Sanborn & Bob James, and John Medeski. An additional five to seven projects will follow later in the year.

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David Sanborn
By Troy Hull
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Bob James
By Dragan Tasic
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Bill Frisell enjoying himself at The Mint
By Jim Brock

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In the United States, OKeh will be part of Sony Masterworks, Sony Classical’s U.S. branch.

The announcement, says the press release, “comes just months after the appointment of Chuck Mitchell as the Senior Vice President for Sony Masterworks.” Mitchell previously served as worldwide president of Verve Records and more recently as a Vice President at eOne Music.

OKeh was founded in 1918 and initially released early jazz and blues recordings by artists such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, King Oliver, Mamie Smith and Sidney Bechet. The imprint was used on and off from the 1940s into the ’90s, briefly issuing soul recordings in the ’60s by artists such as Little Richard, Larry Williams and Major Lance. Sony last reactivated OKeh in 1994 but let it lapse into disuse again in 2000.

Release Schedule

April 9: John Medeski—A Different Time

May (TBA): David Sanborn & Bob James—Title TBA

TBA: Bill Frisell Big Sur Quintet—Title TBA

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