- Verve Records
Verve Records Parent company Universal Music Group Founded 1956 Founder Norman Granz Distributor(s) Verve Music Group (In the US) Genre Jazz Country of origin US Official Website
Verve Records is an American jazz record label now owned by Universal Music Group. It was founded by Norman Granz in 1956, absorbing the catalogues of his earlier labels, Clef Records (founded in 1946) and Norgran Records (founded in 1953), and material which had been licensed to Mercury previously.
Jazz and folk origins
The Verve catalog grew throughout the 1950s and 1960s to include most of the major figures in jazz. It also recognized the potential of comedy albums, producing Spike Jones' first LP, Dinner Music For People Who Aren't Very Hungry, in 1956 and several best-selling albums featuring live performances by Shelley Berman beginning in 1960.
Granz sold Verve to MGM in 1961 for $3 million. Creed Taylor was appointed as producer, and adopted a more commercial approach, cancelling several contracts. Taylor brought the bossa nova to America with the Stan Getz/Charlie Byrd LP Jazz Samba as well as Getz/Gilberto. Several arrangers of note worked for the Verve label too in the 1960s, including Claus Ogerman and Oliver Nelson. Claus Ogerman, by his own admission in Gene Lees' Jazzletter publication, arranged some 60-70 albums for Verve under Creed Taylor's direction from 1963-1967.
In 1964, Taylor supervised the creation of a folk music subsidiary named Verve Folkways (later renamed Verve Forecast) by Verve executive Jerry Schoenbaum. Taylor left Verve in 1967 to form his own CTI Records. But by now there were fewer new recordings and they would cease altogether in the early 1970s.
Besides its main focus on jazz, Verve did host a handful of rock artists in the 1960s, including The Righteous Brothers, Frank Zappa and the The Mothers of Invention, The Velvet Underground, and The Blues Project.
In the seventies, the label became part of the PolyGram label group, at this point incorporating the Mercury/EmArcy jazz catalog, which Philips, part owners of PolyGram, had earlier acquired. Verve Records became the Verve Music Group after PolyGram was merged with Seagram's Universal Music Group in 1998. The jazz holdings from the merged companies were folded into this sub-group.
The label was revived in the mid-1980s for new releases. Yet a more important focus for the new Verve Records was the reissuing of its back catalogue, in ever more imaginative ways. The "Verve By Request" label began to reissue many original Verve bossa nova titles on CD in the late 1990s, and the Elite series revived many obscure albums which had languished for many years.
When Universal and Polygram merged in 1998, Verve's holdings were merged with Universal's GRP Recording Company to become Verve Music Group. This was run by producer Tommy LiPuma. Ron Goldstein was named President of the merged companies.
Since 2002, the label has released a series of Verve Remixed compilation discs where classic tracks by Verve artists are remixed by contemporary electronic music DJs. By the mid-2000s, there was an extensive "Verve Vault" section on iTunes.
The Verve imprint itself manages much of the jazz catalog that once belonged to PolyGram (not including recordings by Herb Alpert for his A&M Records label which Alpert acquired in a legal settlement with Universal Music and are licensed to Shout! Factory), while the Impulse! Records imprint manages the portion of Universal's catalog that was acquired from ABC Records, which itself includes the jazz catalog of the Famous Music Group, once owned by Paramount Pictures/Gulf+Western, but was sold to ABC in 1974. Meanwhile, GRP manages the rest of MCA/Universal's jazz catalog, including releases once issued on the Decca and Chess labels.
In July 2011, media reports announced that producer and songwriter David Foster had been hired to head the label and that under Foster's guidance, its focus was expected to shift from jazz to adult contemporary pop.
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