Storyville Records was founded in 1950 by Karl Emil Knudsen, a jazz record collector, then working for the Copenhagen telephone company. Named after Storyville the famous historic red-light district of New Orleans, Louisiana, its main focus has always been on jazz and blues.
The label's first releases were 78 rpm reissues featuring Ma Rainey, Clarence Williams Blue Five, and James P. Johnson, but Storyville soon began releasing original recordings, starting with Ken Colyer's Jazz Men, a British group whose members included trombonistChris Barber, clarinetistMonty Sunshine, and singer-guitaristLonnie Donegan. Knudsen was also co-founder of the Storyville Club, a popular Copenhagen trad band hangout that brought the Colyer band to Denmark in 1953. The band was recorded by Chris Albertson during its stay in Denmark and these performances—which constituted the label's first release of original material—remain in the Storyville catalogue. Today, the company's catalogue contains an eclectic representation of jazz genres and has expanded to also include a substantial number of video releases and—under the umbrella company, JazzMedia—jazz and blues-oriented books and discographies. When Karl Emil Knudsen died on September 5, 2003, the company continued to function under the leadership of Anders Stefansen, who remained at the helm in 2005, when it was acquired by Edition Wilhelm Hansen, Denmark's oldest music publishing company. The label continues to expand its catalog.