Mack Avenue Records, Inc., was formed in 1999 by Detroit businesswoman Gretchen Valade and businessman Tom Robinson. The label has released recordings by six-time Grammy nominee Gerald Wilson, Oscar Castro Neves, pianist George Shearing and the drum and bass duo of Carl Allen and Rodney Whitaker as well as relative newcomers Hot Club of Detroit, Ron Blake, Sean Jones, Tia Fuller and vocalist Sachal Vasandani.
In 2008, Mack Avenue acquired two smooth jazz record labels. Mack Avenue acquired the Los Angeles-based Artistry Music Group, a Contemporary Jazz and Adult R&B imprint founded by trumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Richard Elliot; adding acclaimed artists Rahsaan Patterson, Brian Bromberg and Alan Broadbent, to Mack Avenue’s established traditional jazz brand.
Shortly after, Mack Avenue added Rendezvous Entertainment (founded by saxophonist Dave Koz), welcoming bassist Wayman Tisdale (who put out three albums on Rendezvous before his tragic passing in 2009), keyboardist Brian Simpson, saxophonist Kirk Whalum, and singer-guitarist Jonathan Butler to the Mack Avenue family of artists.
Other major 2008 additions to the Mack Avenue Records roster include acclaimed guitarist Stanley Jordan, Grammy Award winning saxophonist Kenny Garrett and bassist Christian McBride (all of whom made their label debut in 2008 and 2009).
In 2009, Mack Avenue announced the addition of Grammy Award winning pianist, Danilo Perez. He released a Grammy-nominated album, entitled “Providencia” in August 2010.
In September 2010, Mack Avenue announced two additions to their roster: guitarist/former Tonight Show band leader Kevin Eubanks – in his first project since his Tonight Show departure; and the celebrated Yellowjackets. Eubanks will release his debut on the label, Zen Food,on November 23. Yellowjackets will release their debut for the label in March of 2011.
In February 2011, Mack Avenue announced the addition of legend Gary Burton to their roster. He will release his debut project for the label on June 7 with The New Gary Burton Quartet (featuring Julian Lage, Scott Colley and Antonio Sanchez).
While releasing albums on the traditional brand as well as the various smooth jazz imprints, Mack Avenue maintains an active release schedule on their imprint, Sly Dog Records. With projects on the imprint from blues guitarist Johnnie Bassett, Sly Dog was also gearing up to release an album from acclaimed singer-songwriter Kenny Rankin before his death in June 2009. The imprint released six titles by Rankin in November 2009: Mind-Dusters, Family, Like A Seed, Silver Morning, Inside, and The Kenny Rankin Album. Four albums have been re-mastered from the original masters with the Rankin family overseeing the project.
The company also continues to distribute the award-winning Los Angeles based progressive jazz label, Cryptogramophone Records.
Additionally, Mack Avenue Records is synonymous with its association to the Detroit International Jazz Festival. Mack Avenue founder Gretchen Valade created a new nonprofit foundation dedicated solely to producing the annual Labor Day weekend event, saving it from virtual collapse.
States Ms. Valade, “In terms of geographical jazz history, Detroit has always been one of the first cities mentioned. Founding a jazz label and later sustaining an important festival is my way of adding to the already vibrant and storied jazz tradition here in Detroit.”