Mack Avenue Records: A Label To Watch

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Michigan based jazz label, Mack Avenue

Mack Avenue is putting out some of the best jazz music of any label in America. It is the little label that could. If you’re familiar with Detroit, you would instantly guess it’s a Motor City based label as it’s named after a major street on the East side of town. The company’s been around since 1999, and is based in Harper Woods, Michigan in the Detroit Metro area.

Rhythm Planet has celebrated several of its artists already: Cecile McLorin Salvant in an exclusive live set and Aaron Diehl’s wonderful Bespoke album. I am currently enjoying Christian McBride‘s recent album, Out Here. It is 100% super. I’m a jazz snob, so I’m not easily seduced or pleased either.

It seems like artists are going there to join its stable of heavyweights. The young vocal sensation Cécile McLorin Salvant, pianist Aaron Diehl, vibist/pianist Warren Wolf, Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett, Danilo Perez, Gary Burton–just to name just a few.

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And old collegue from NPR’s Jazz Alive days, Al Pryor is doing the A&R. He’s not a businessman who gets into the record business, he’s a passionate jazz veteran who really cares about music. Mack Avenue releases reflect that passion and determination. The albums are well-produced, have excellent recorded sound, good grand pianos to offer the pianists–all a part of Mack Avenue’s recipe for success. That and the dedication of its owner, Gretchen Carhartt Valade, a longtime prime mover in keeping the Detroit Jazz Festival alive and free of charge (even in these difficult economic times for the city).

Founded in 1980, the festival has 100 acts over 4 days (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)