Jazz record labels make things happen, and although notions of what a record company are there to do vary enormously nowadays, they still count.

In recent years the tide has changed with the digital revolution and artist empowerment, and even since the last survey here in November, a bunch of important new labels, or reactivated ones, are making a real difference in pushing the music forward, connecting with fans and building the sector.

Digital-only releases, for instance, the latest Andrew McCormack trio album through Edition, are becoming more commonplace, but remain the exception to the rule. The vinyl-only label Gearbox, though, has begun to make its unique presence felt. What goes around…

…comes around, and watch out for the return of Verve records in the UK, with new A&R in the late-spring, a year after the UK office was closed down. It comes at a time when Blue Note and Verve will come under the same roof for the first time, “great ships coming in to dock", as the label chief at Universal has put it. 

Label activity

Prog-jazz inclined, artists include Redivider, ZoiD, and Thought-Fox.

Sax force-of-nature Tommy Smith’s label, back with a bang and In The Spirit of Duke

Alex Wilson records
A burgeoning label catalogue topped by a fine new trio release from the leading latin-jazz pianist of his generation

Lyte records
Drummer David Lyttle’s forward thinking label. Artists include teenage jazz guitar sensation Andreas Varady

House of Legends was a big hit for Courtney Pine’s label in 2012 topping the Jazzwise Album of the Year critics’ poll

Martin Speake’s label, Polar Bear-meets-Ellington at last!

Part of Sony Classical: Bill Frisell, Dhafer Youssef, John Medeski, and Michel Camilo are on the roster. No website yet.

There is a UK placeholder website for the famed record company founded by Norman Granz. But there are few details so far, and the Universal-owned label won’t comment on the new signings. Check back for the first news when the publicity button is finally pressed. Last year before the label closed vocals starlet Natalie Duncan, among others, was signed.

Vinyl-only, artists include hard bop purist Simon Spillett, and the great Kenny Wheeler.       MB

Report: Stephen Graham

 Diatribe artist ZoiD, top