MAXJAZZ Label Owner Rich McDonnell Dies at 68

St. Louis label has released more than 75 albums

Richard McDonnell
Mulgrew Miller, Richard McDonnell and Russell Malone

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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 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.