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In Name Only? Jazz Labels Venture Outside the Genre

Jesse Harris
Jesse Harris
Van Morrison (courtesy of Van Morrison)

It’s been said a million times: Jazz just isn’t selling like it used to. That means labels of all sizes are diversifying the scope of artists they have on their rosters. While nonjazz artists on jazz labels aren’t without precedent-the Velvet Underground was on Verve; Blue Note had its fair share of funk bands in the ’60s and ’70s-the move is now often a matter of financial necessity.

According to Verve’s Ron Goldstein, “It was my decision to bring in nonjazz acts because I realized three or four years ago that if we stuck with jazz, we would be out of business. I just knew it. It’s not that we want to be out of the jazz business. It’s just that there is nothing that is coming along that is exciting. There was a blip with Joshua Redman, Nicholas Payton, Christian McBride 10 years ago, but it seemed to dry up very quickly.”

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