Joe Fields – Unsung Jazz Hero
Sadly veteran Jazz label owner and Producer Joe Fields died on 12th July aged 88. Joe had been in the jazz music business for over 50 years. He worked for London, MGM, Verve, Sue and Prestige labels. In 1968 when Sales Executive for Buddah records he founded their Jazz label- Cobblestone records. He signed many up and coming future Jazz talents including Norman Connors, Neal Creque, Steve Kuhn, Joe Thomas, Howard Ousley, Hermeto Pascoal and the group Catalyst along with many artists he had worked with at Prestige :- Pat Martino, Sonny Stitt and Eric Kloss, plus veterans like Grant Green, Jimmy Heath and Cedar Walton to create a solid roster.
In 1973 he founded Muse records and many of the Cobblestone artists came with him. He ran Muse records for 33 years until 1996, an incredible achievement for an independent Jazz label. At Muse he signed many great artists whose music still sounds fantastic today including Mark Murphy, Carlos Garnett, Dom Um Romao, Woody Shaw, Wallace Roney, Kenny Baron and Richie Cole plus veterans including Walter Bishop, Eddie Jefferson and Charles Earland, who all produced some of their best music for the label. Joe’s love of Jazz, Blues and Brazilian music was very evident in his roster of artists and he certainly enabled his artists the freedom and resources to produce their best.
I was privileged to work with Joe last year when I compiled the Mark Murphy anthology on Soul Brother, and he kindly wrote so sleeve notes for us. Joe at 87 still had very detailed memories of the recordings with Mark an incredible passion for the music, and sense of humour.
In 1996 he founded the High Note and Savant labels with his son Barney Fields which he ran until his death, still releasing records this month. Once again many of the artists that Joe worked with at Muse rejoined him at High Note.
Joe Fields may not be that well known a name, but his contribution to Jazz Music was immense. He will be sadly missed but his musical legacy will live on for many decades as younger people discover the incredible music that he produced and released on the many labels he was involved with. He is survived by wife of 66 years Joan Nancy Fields, his four children, grandchild and great grandchild.
R.I. P Joe and thanks for the great music.
Some of the best albums from the Muse label have been reissued on Soul Brother Records in recent years
check out the following