Black Jazz Records was introduced to the public in the early 70’s by Mr. Dick Schory & Gene Russell. As A&R Mr. Russell recognized the need for a jazz music record label which would produce and distribute quality recordings targeted toward the growing market of African Spiritual Jazz.
In it’s heyday, Black Jazz Records represented a new and fresh alternative to traditional jazz, embodying the spirit of the black/urban awakening of the civil rights period. During it’s six year existence, the record label made a major impact on the jazz world, both domestically and in foreign territories.
The Black Jazz roster consisted of ten
superior instrumentalists and vocalists that included:
Gene Russell - Piano
Rudolph Johnson - Saxophone
Calvin Keys - Guitar
Walter Bishop, Jr. - Piano
Chester Thompson - Organ
Henry Franklin - Bass
Doug Carn - Piano, Organ, Keyboards
Jean Carn - Vocalist
Kellee Paterson - Vocalist
The Awakening - Instrumental Group
“Doug Carn sold more records than Dave Brubeck and Ramsey Lewis (According to 1974 Billboard Magazine). However, due the fact that Doug’s demo (Infant Eyes) was turned down by the major labels, a great number of jazz fans and music lovers were unaware of his accomplishments." -> http://www.blackjazz.com/about.html
And this happened because of racism. Major labels turned him down because it was music that had to do with black awareness. To put out this kind of music, you either had to be on tiny indie labels like Strata-East, or go to Europe to record for labels like BYG Actuel. The major jazz labels in America were not having any of this black awareness talk. They shut it down quickly.
The fact that Carn was more commercially viable than Brubeck and Ramsey Lewis (who was considered “safe”) at the time was irrelevant. They were willing to bypass making money when the music was politically conscious and had an emphasis on blackness. Maintaining white hegemony was more important, and artists like Carn were threats.