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Storyville Records’ Karl Knudsen Dies

Karl Emil Knudsen, the president of Denmark’s renowned Storyville Records and known to many as the Doctor of Jazz Archaeology, passed away last Friday. He was 74.

Knudsen founded Storyville Records, Europe’s oldest independent jazz label, in 1950. Taking full advantage of the renowned jazz musicians passing through Copenhagen, Storyville earned the distinction of “The Blue Note of Europe” for its many important and archival recordings.

For the first 15 years or so Storyville’s activity centered primarily on traditional jazz and mainly blues. Knudsen was particularly active in the preservation of prebop jazz, and is considered by many to be a vital figure to the printing and circulating of many important jazz and blues recordings that would otherwise be lost forever, foremost among them are rare and previously unreleased Duke Ellington concert and radio sessions.

However, Storyville also featured such boppers as Stan Getz, Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh, Art Pepper and Miles Davis as well as swingers like Benny Carter and Louis Armstrong and plenty of Scandinavian musicians.

Over the last few years of his life Knudsen experienced a severe distortion of his hearing, but he didn’t consider retirement. The impresario spent most of his recent efforts culling rare footage of Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Fats Waller and Nat “King” Cole to be released on video and DVD.

For more information on Storyville Records and its history, visit

Originally Published