Origin Jazz Library
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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, and Mississippi John Hurt) of pre and post-war 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. The first issue was The Immortal Charlie Patton.
In 1967, Whelan turned over his share of the company to Givens, who continued to put out new releases 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-1990s, despite most of the tracks being available on CD, Givens continued to receive orders for his albums.
Givens died of a heart attack, in January 23, 1999, the day after his most recent project, Bix Restored, Volume 2 was released. Shortly afterwards, Cary Ginell and Michael Kieffer, both of whom had worked for Givens on later OJL releases, elected to keep the company going. Origin Jazz Library's catalog consists of 16 titles, including the "Bix Restored" series (now five volumes) and the "Western Swing Chronicles" series, documenting the early years of western swing in the 1930s and 1940s.
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