Motéma Music

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Motéma Music
Founded2003 (2003)
FounderJana Herzen
Distributor(s)Entertainment One
Country of originU.S.
LocationNew York City

Motéma Music is an independent American record label focused on jazz and world music, as well as other creative projects by virtuosic musicians and composers. It was founded by Jana Herzen in San Francisco in 2003, and is now based in Harlem, New York City. Among the artists on the label are Gregory Porter, Ginger Baker, Monty Alexander, Kellylee Evans, Randy Weston, Charnett Moffett, Geri Allen, Lynne Arriale, Rufus Reid, Marc Cary, Jean-Michel Pilc, Lakecia Benjamin, and René Marie. The name means "heart" in the African language of Lingala.[1] Motéma has been described as "what Blue Note was to the jazz labels of the 60s...for the 21st century"[2] and "a welcoming beacon, documenting brilliant improvisers who are rapidly expanding the art form."[3]


Motéma Music was begun in the San Francisco Bay Area. A production company since 1997,[4] it became a label after signing Babatunde Lea for his album, Soul Pools. Jana Herzen, a singer-songwriter who composed and performed on "'Round the World" on Soul Pools, was trying to get out some records and created the label to do so, never intending to be a CEO.[5] Herzen chose the name because of its similarity to the sound of "Motown".

Herzen moved the label to New York in 2005 to be closer to the action. At one time, the label was based in the third floor of the Langston Hughes House.[6] The label has since changed locations but remains in Harlem. The Motéma logo was designed by Winston Smith.[7]

The label is very artist-centric and focuses on each artist's individual development. It is because of this reputation that such highly respected artists such as Geri Allen and Rufus Reid came to the label.[7] Herzen attributes this to her being an artist herself.

Jazz Therapy[edit]

Roni Ben-Hur and Jana Herzen founded the Jazz Therapy series as a benefit for the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund of the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center Foundation in Englewood, New Jersey, which underwrites medical care for uninsured jazz musicians who are unable to pay for medical care. The series so far has included CDs by Ben-Hur and Ithamara Koorax and Juarez Moreira. Ben-Hur met Nilson Matta in the performance lounge of Englewood Hospital, which led to their collaboration on the third release in the series.





  • Lynn Arriale Trio (Jay Anderson, Steve Davis) - Come Together MTM 00001














  1. ^ "Cindy Byram PR :: MOTÉMA MUSIC Blue Note festival". Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  2. ^ Christian Kallen (June 10, 2011). ""Motéma Night at the Raven and the Ecstasy of Jazz."". The Healdsburg Paper. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
  3. ^ "Motéma Music Night – June 9". Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-05. Retrieved 2011-08-16.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Alex Henderson. "Motéma Music" All About Jazz, November 2010, pp. 12 & 39
  6. ^ Arcynta Ali Childs. “Lawsuits and the Langston Hughes House.” The Village Voice, August 27, 2008.
  7. ^ a b "Winston Smith News - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE". Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  8. ^ "Arturo O`Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra|The Offense of the Drum". Motéma Music. May 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  9. ^ "Arturo O`Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra|Cuba: The Conversation Continues". Motéma Music. August 2015. Retrieved 27 August 2015.

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