George Avakian, Jazz Producer, Manager and Industry Executive

George Avakian, Jazz Producer, Manager and Industry Executive

“…In some ways, the most important single thing that I ever did in the record industry was to change the emphasis of the industry in the direction of quality albums which would endure, rather than hits that came and disappeared.”

Who he is

George Avakian is a highly successful music producer, known as one of the giants of the American jazz industry. 

Born in Armavir, Armenia, during the first Armenian Republic, he emigrated to the United States with his parents. He attended Yale, served in the U.S. Army during World War II and, upon completing his service, realized his dream of working in the record industry. 

Avakian was responsible for many firsts, including creating the first jazz album and establishing the first annotated jazz album series. His educational notes were popular with listeners looking for an intellectual musical experience as well as an auditory one. Avakian is also credited with establishing the 12” LP format as the industry standard, a move which revolutionized how music was recorded, distributed and heard worldwide. 

Besides producing music, he was also masterful in establishing and reviving the careers of jazz artists. He first signed Miles Davis in 1955 and was also responsible for bringing Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington back to the limelight. 

He is the recipient of a long list of awards, including Europe’s jazz award, the Django d’Or. 

Interesting fact

Avakian was one of the founding members of Warner Bros. Records. 

Learn more about him

NEA Jazz Masters - National Endowment for the Arts

Interview with George Avakian

George Avakian and Anahid Ajemian Papers - New York Public Library