JARO Medien GmbH turns 40 this year, making it one of the oldest independent record labels in Germany. Since it was founded, many artists, employees, collaborators and music lovers have come and gone. Only a few of the young companies from back then managed to publish continuously over such a long period of time and constantly discover new projects, as Ulrich Balß did with his label. To date, 280 music productions have been released on the JARO record label of the same name. This also includes albums that have been awarded music prizes. In 1993, the women’s choir The Bulgarian Voices Angelité was nominated twice for the American Grammy, Nusrath Fateh Ali Khan won the UNESCO International Music Prize in 1995, and the Warsaw Village Band was honored with the BBC World Music Award in 2004. In addition, some LPs / CDs received the German Record Critics’ Prize (Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik).
This compilation couldn’t possibly encompass all the JARO artists. The selections here are either outstanding, ahead-of-their-time recordings, or important documentations of JARO’s overall output. Such a profusion of musicians have released numerous CDs on JARO. As a rule, I could only choose one title per artist/group, and not necessarily from their first album. Generally I tried conforming to a chronological presentation. Over 40 years, there have been so many important recordings I would have loved to accomodate. I wish here to thank all the artists with whom I’ve been able to work together throughout the years. So many personalities, each with their own unique ways, have brought tremendous enrichment to my life.
Over the years, changes in personnel are inevitable, and longtime partners have come and gone, as meets the needs of new challenges. Label boss Uli Balss had led JARO these past 40 years, and continues to be its driving force. There were sad events to report as well; the death of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Lasse Holmer, the 2019 death of Michael Alperin, and in October 2020 that of Japanese trumpeter Toshinori Kondo. At least we still have their music to remember them by.
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