Charlie Lourie, Co-Founder of Mosaic Records, Dead at 60

Charlie Lourie, longtime jazz recording industry executive and co-founder of the enthusiast-oriented Mosaic Records, died December 31, 2000 from cardiac arrest, a complication of the rare viral disease scleroderma, from which he had suffered for the last three years. He was 60.

Mr. Lourie was born on April 20, 1940 in Boston, MA. An accomplished clarinetist, he graduated from The New England Conservatory and worked in the greater Boston area throughout the '60s as a clarinetist with a variety of chamber groups and symphony orchestras (including the BSO and Boston Pops), and as a multi-reed instrumentalist for several musical theaters and jazz ensembles.

In 1968 he moved to New York to assume the role of manager of contemporary artist relations for Columbia Records. He also served as product manager and director of merchandising for Epic Records, a division of Columbia. In 1974 he became the marketing head for Blue Note Records in LA, moving on to Warner Bros. in 1977, where he was product manager and, later, director of jazz and progressive music.

In 1983, he co-founded Mosaic Records with Michael Cuscuna in Santa Monica, CA (the company moved to Stamford, CT in 1985). Mosaic was unique among jazz labels in that it was run by and for informed, serious jazz fans. The label revolutionized and set new standards for the presentation of jazz reissues, specializing in authorized, definitive, comprehensive, limited-edition multi-disc collections of major bodies of work by significant jazz artists.

Mosaic editions typically bring together all of the existing recordings of a jazz artist during a particular time period (or recorded for a specific label), presenting them in chronological order, including alternate takes and miscues from the original recording sessions. Mosaic recordings are accompanied by museum-quality booklets that include authoritative essays by jazz historians and critics, running to 10,000 words, comprehensive discographic information—often presented for the first time—and the black and white photography of some of the finest jazz photographers (principally Francis Wolff), printed on coated paper stock from the original negatives.

The label's 105 projects to date include significant reissues of some of jazz's most influential artists, such as Thelonius Monk, Louis Armstrong, Cecil Taylor, Miles Davis, Herbie Nichols, Andrew Hill, and the Port of Harlem Jazzmen. Over half of the label's limited editions have sold out and are no longer available, a tribute to the intelligence with which the material was chosen and presented. Michael Cogswell, jazz archivist and director of the Louis Armstrong House and Archives, said, "Mosaic Records set the standard for jazz reissues—and that was the direct result of Charlie Lourie's passion for giving the art its due."

Mr. Lourie served on the boards of The Jazz Foundation of America and The Jazz Musicians Emergency Fund. He is survived by a daughter, Sarah; a son, David; a brother, Alan; and his mother, Rose.

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