Jana Herzen

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Jana Herzen
BornSan Francisco, California, U.S.
GenresJazz, world music
Occupation(s)Musician, singer-songwriter, music producer, label owner
InstrumentsKalimba, guitar, bass guitar, didgeridoo
Years active2003–present
Associated actsGregory Porter
Geri Allen
Monty Alexander
Marc Cary
Lakecia Benjamin
Charnett Moffett
Randy Weston
Rufus Reid
Babatunde Lea
René Marie

Jana Herzen is a singer-songwriter with folk, world, rock and jazz influences who founded Motéma Music, a Harlem-based record label focused on virtuosic jazz and world music. Prior to founding the label in 2003, she worked as a musician (her CD, Soup's on Fire, was the first CD on the label) and as an art agent for Winston Smith, who designed the logo for Motéma.[1] Herzen was instrumental in the publishing of Artcrime, Smith's 2nd volume of collected works on the Last Gasp publishing imprint.


Born of world-renowned scientists, Professors Leonard and Leonore Herzenberg,[2] Herzen was raised on the campus of Stanford University, attended Stanford from 1977–79, and New York University from 1980 to 1982 where she completed an undergraduate degree in drama. While at NYU, she met Bernard Telsey and Robert LuPone. Together with Lupone and Telsey, and five other NYU graduates, she participated as a founding member of the award-winning theatre production group Manhattan Class Company, for which she served as a dramaturg, script doctor, lighting designer, actor, and director for 10 years.[3] In 1991, she left Manhattan to travel to Japan, Bali, and Australia where she worked on songs for her first album, which was eventually recorded in San Francisco and Paris from 1994 to 1997, as produced by Congolese expatriate and worldbeat bassist and producer Shaka Ra Mutela, who had served as bassist and musical director for international music stars from Congo, Papa Wemba & Ray Lema and whose song, "Yaleo," appeared on the album, Supernatural by Carlos Santana, in a deal negotiated by Herzen just prior to the forming of the Motéma label.

As A&R Director and President of Motéma, she has grown the label from its early days in San Francisco, where it would release 2 to 3 albums in a year, to an internationally distributed imprint with over 80 releases by 40 artists including some of the world's top jazz touring acts such as Gregory Porter, Randy Weston, Geri Allen, and Monty Alexander.


As leader[edit]

  • Soup's on Fire (Motéma, 2003)
  • Passion of a Lonely Heart (Motéma, 2012)

as side artist[edit]

as producer[edit]

as executive producer[edit]

  • Babatunde Lea - Level of Intent 8-20320-0047-2 (Diaspora Records, 1996)
  • Babatunde Lea - Soul Pools 7-09363-7136-2 (Motéma, 2003)
  • Lynne Arriale Trio - Arise MTM71372 (Motéma, 2003)
  • DJ Jackie Christie/Discomind – “Beautiful Day” [single] (2003)
  • DJ Jackie Christie - Made 4 U RAD 90079-2 (Motéma, 2004)
  • Babatunde Lea - Suite Unseen: Summoner of the Ghost MTM 00002 (Motéma, 2004)
  • Marc Cary - Focus MTM-00005 (Motéma, 2006)
  • Amy London - When I Look into Your Eyes MTM-00011 (Motéma, 2007)
  • Rufus Reid Quintet - Live at the Kennedy Center MTM-00009 (CD+DVD) (Motéma, 2007)
  • Roni Ben-Hur - Keepin' It Open 232537 (Motéma, 2007)
  • Pete Levin - Deacon Blues MTM-0008 (Motéma, 2007)
  • Roni Ben-Hur, Gene Bertoncini - Smile: Jazz Therapy, Volume 1 MTM – 00018 (Motéma, 2008)
  • The New Jazz Composers Octet - The Turning Gate MTM-00019 (Motéma, 2008)
  • K.J. Denhert - Dal Vivo a Umbria Jazz MTM – 00017 (Motéma, 2008)
  • Antonio Ciacca Quintet - Rush Life 232536 (Motéma, 2008)
  • Alexis Cole - The Greatest Gift MTM-26 (Motéma, 2009)
  • Babatunde Lea's Umbo Weti: A Tribute to Leon Thomas MTM-25 (Motéma, 2009)
  • Tessa Souter - Obsession MTM-27 (Motéma, 2009)
  • Lynne Arriale - Nuance: The Bennett Studio Sessions MTM-00022 (Motéma, 2009)
  • Charnett Moffett - The Art of Improvisation MTM-21 (Motéma, 2009)
  • Randy Weston - The Storyteller MTM-51 (Motéma, 2010)
  • Geri Allen and Timeline - Live MTM-42 (Motéma, 2010)
  • Patrick Stanfield Jones - A Heart and an Open Road MTM-39 (Motéma, 2010)
  • Charnett Moffett - Treasure MTM-43 (Motéma, 2010)
  • Rufus Reid featuring Steve Allee & Duduka da Fonseca - Out Front MTM-36 (Motéma, 2010)
  • Geri Allen - Flying Toward the Sound MTM-37 (Motéma, 2010)
  • Tomoko Sugawara - Along the Silk Road MTM-31 (Motéma, 2010)
  • Antonio Ciacca Quintet - Lagos Blues MTM-32 (Motéma, 2010)
  • Monty Alexander - Harlem - Kingston Express Live! MTM-67 (Motéma, 2011)
  • Jean-Michel Pilc - Essential MTM-61 (Motéma, 2011)
  • Nilson Matta and Roni Ben-Hur with Victor Lewis and Café - Mojave - Jazz Therapy, Vol. 3 MTM-64 (Motéma, 2011)
  • Pilc Moutin Hoenig – ‘’Threedom’’ MTM-72 (Motéma, 2011)


  1. ^ http://winstonsmith.com/dossier/
  2. ^ Jeff Rivers. "Jana Herzen, Musician And Jazz Label's Chief Cook." The Hartford Courant, April 3, 2003. http://articles.courant.com/2003-04-03/entertainment/0304031618_1_motema-music-record-label-arriale
  3. ^ Tom Terrell. “Jana Herzen Burns the Scene with Motéma Label and New Album, Soup's On Fire.” Music Dish. October 6, 2003. http://www.musicdish.com/mag/?id=8645

External links[edit]