Albert Marx, founder of Discovery Records, a Los Angeles-based jazz label, and a music innovator whose insight led him to record Benny Goodman’s legendary 1938 Carnegie Hall concert, died Wednesday.
His wife, Patricia, said the 60-year veteran of the music business, who produced Sarah Vaughan’s first records and later broadened the appeal of Dizzie Gillespie and Duke Ellington, was 79 when he died of the complications of a stroke at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
The son of a wealthy New York textile manufacturer, Marx was raised on a lavish estate in New Rochelle where he began collecting records.
He decided to pursue music rather than fabric as a career and landed an apprenticeship with the American Recording Corp. in New York.
As his knowledge grew, so did his influence, and he persuaded company executives in the early 1930s to record pianists Eddy Duchin and Art Tatum.
He next joined a talent agency and was instrumental in bringing British orchestra leader Ray Noble to this country. Marx also made friends with such musical legends as George Gershwin, John Green, Richard Rodgers and Goodman.
When Goodman--whose band featured Harry James, Ziggy Elman, Lionel Hampton and Gene Krupa--signed for the Carnegie Hall concert, Marx found that the clarinetist had no plans to record the landmark event.
Marx memorialized the first appearance of a jazz band in Carnegie Hall by stringing a telephone wire from the hall to a nearby recording studio, where he ran two lathes scoring acetate discs.
He made them primarily for his own enjoyment, he said later, and the records weren’t released commercially until many years later by Columbia.
Marx next worked for his father but grew bored and returned to music in 1944 when he purchased the Musicraft label.
He cut sessions with Teddy Wilson, Charlie Shavers, Red Norvo, Maxine Sullivan, Ben Webster and many more and signed Ellington for such sides as “Trumpets No End” and “The Beautiful Indians.”
He also displayed Vaughan as a soloist at a time (1946-47) when she was known only as a band singer.
Marx next moved to Los Angeles, where he started Discovery, initially with such artists as Norvo, Georgie Auld and Gillespie, and then recorded such performers as singers Lorez Alexandria and Ernie Andrews, pianist Mike Wofford, the vocal duo of Don and Alicia Cunningham and composer-leader Gerald Wilson.
He was also married to Goodman vocalist Helen Ward and former Charlie Barnet singer Harriet Clark.
Besides his third wife, survivors include four daughters, four sons and three grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Church of the Hills, Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.