Storyville Records is an independent Danish jazz and blues label founded in 1950 by Karl Emil Knudsen (1929–2003), a jazz record collector (and then an employee of the Copenhagen telephone company) . Originally reserved for traditional jazz and blues, the repertoire was later expanded to include recordings in the field of modern jazz .
The label is named after the Storyville entertainment district in New Orleans , the cradle of jazz. Knudsen was also a co-founder of the “Storyville Club” in Copenhagen , a meeting place for old-time jazz . He began as an importer of jazz records, which he exchanged for the Danish jazz records that were coveted abroad. The acquaintance with Chris Barber , who also worked for the English Tempo Records, gave him his first licenses. Early releases included reissues of recordings by Ma Rainey , Clarence Williams Blue Five, and James P. Johnson - the first ever release was by Louis Armstrong in Red Onion Jazz Babes (1924). Soon, however, new recordings by foreign jazz musicians visiting Denmark were added, first of " Ken Colyer 's Jazz Men", who played in 1953 in Storyville in Copenhagen.
Storyville also publishes reissues of recordings by many classical jazz and blues musicians that previously appeared on Paramount Records, American Music Records and Southland Records, for example. Avid record collector Knudsen (nicknamed Dr. of Jazz Archeology ) was known for digging up unpublished material.
The label's musicians include Louis Armstrong ( Louis Armstrong in Scandinavia ), Thelonious Monk ( Monk in Copenhagen ), Earl Hines , Billie Holiday , Teddy Wilson , Stéphane Grappelli , Bud Powell , Ben Webster , Eddie Lockjaw Davis , Duke Ellington , Benny Carter , Art Tatum , Sweets Edison , Dexter Gordon , Thad Jones , Kenny Drew , Howard McGhee , Wild Bill Davison , Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen , the violinist Svend Asmussen , Alex Riel , “Fessor's Big City Band”, Acker Bilk , Papa Bue's Viking Jazzband , Champion Jack Dupree , Memphis Slim , but also Lee Konitz , James Spaulding and John Tchicai . Storyville also released historical recordings by Danish jazz pioneer Leo Mathisen and the debut recordings by Niels Lan Doky and Danish pianist Carsten Dahl . The most commercially successful musicians in the catalog were the traditional jazz musicians around Papa Bue. During the 1970s, which were unfavorable for mainstream jazz, the label survived thanks to its diversification into pop in Knudsen's label Sonet, which he sold to Polygram in 1991 and turned back exclusively to jazz.
Storyville is now the oldest European independent jazz label. The label also publishes books and videos (under the umbrella company “JazzMedia”) and issues jazz discographies (for example the eleven-volume Jazz Records 1945–1962 by Jörgen Grunnet Jepsen and Erik Raben). They have also been producing their own music films since the 1980s. After the death of the founder Knudsen in September 2003, the label was initially managed by Knudsen's close colleague Anders Stefanson and in 2005 it was taken over by the largest Danish music publisher Edition Wilhelm Hansen, which in turn belongs to the Music Sales Group.