From 1971-1976 the Bay Area’s iconic, independent Black Jazz Records imprint was in full effect, until the untimely death of its founder and A&R, pianist Gene Russell that is. Home to a roster of artists including Russell himself, Doug and Jean Carn, Walter Bishop Jr., Rudolph Johnson, Chester Thompson, Henry Franklin, Calvin Keys, Kellee Patterson and more, the label offered what it termed “a totally new jazz experience” to its listeners, a “fresh alternative to traditional jazz […] targeted toward the growing market of African Spiritual Jazz” and representative of “the black/urban awakening of the civil rights period”. Or as the L.A. Weekly put it, “your favorite musicians’ favorite musicians recorded for Black Jazz”.
Though the label was later aquired by James Hardge, a 2011 article in the L.A. Weekly quoted the latter’s intent of re-selling it saying, “I’m getting out of the music business; I don’t have the time, attention and dedication that Black Jazz deserves”.
Now I’m not sure of the exact events that pursued, but apparently Japanese Snow Dog Records saved the master tapes from an uncertain fate and launched a tribute series, inviting contemporary artists the likes of Gilles Peterson, DJ Mitsu The Beats, DJ Muro and Theo Parrish to browse the proven Black Jazz Records catalogue and work their magic, which you can listen to via SoundCloud and Mixcloud below: