Origin Jazz Library


Origin Jazz Library

Origin Jazz Library is a record label set up in 1960 by Bill Givens and Pete Whelan. It specializes in early American blues, jazz and western swing music.

Along with Nick Perls' Yazoo Records, it was the label most active in the field of re-issuing mainly samplers, but also single artists' albums (Charlie Patton, Henry Thomas, Crying Sam Collins, Peg Leg Howell, Lonnie Johnson, Memphis Minnie, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Robert Wilkins, Mississippi John Hurt) of pre and postwar blues records, first released as Shellac 78 rpm records. Origin Jazz Library was founded in 1960 by Bill Givens and Pete Whelan, two friends who had gone to boarding school together at Soleburh School in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Their idea was to reissue classic blues recordings of the 1920s and 1930s, which at that time were generally not considered to be of interest, even to those whose primary interest was roots music of that period. The first issue was "The Immortal Charlie Patton," which was received with considerable interest by the emerging "folk revival" community. The label soon established itself as the vanguard of a host of independent labels which helped bring about the traditional blues revival of the 1960s, and added immensely to the body of influences which helped shape rock music. In 1967, Whelan turned over his share of the company to Bill Givens, who continued to put out new releases through the late 1960s, and well into the 1970s, by which time many other labels, such as Yazoo, had reissued the bulk of the worthwhile pre-WWII blues material, so the flow of new OJL issues slowed to a trickle. By the mid-90s, despite most of the tracks Bill issued being available on CD, Bill continued to receive orders for his LPs, due in large part to OJL's pioneering reputation. Bill died suddenly of a massive heart attack, early in the morning of January 23, 1999, the day after his most recent project, "Bix Restored, Volume 2" was picked up from the pressing plant. Shortly afterwards, Cary Ginell and Michael Kieffer, both of whom had worked for Bill on later OJL releases, elected to keep the company going. Origin Jazz Library's catalog consists of 16 titles, including the critically praised "Bix Restored" series (now 5 volumes) and the "Western Swing Chronicles" series, documenting the early years of western swing in the 1930s and '40s.

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