On July 12 we lost Joe Fields. During his long career Fields was the guiding spirit of record labels committed to unalloyed jazz. He started the Cobblestone label and later changed its name to Muse. Among the dozens of musicians he recorded on Muse over three decades were Woody Shaw, Houston Person, Grant Green and Pat Martino.
In the 1980 Fields absorbed the Savoy and Landmark labels, whose holdings encompassed recordings by major figures including Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson and Bobby Hutcherson. In the late ‘90s, he and his son Barney created High Note Records, whose prominent artists include Person, Tom Harrell, Russell Malone, Ron Carter, Wallace Roney, Eric Alexander and Freddy Cole. One of the most recent High Note releases is pianist Cyrus Chestnut’s There’s A Sweet, Sweet Spirit, one of several Fields projects for which he asked me to write liner essays.
Joe was businesslike, determined and, when it came to musical quality, uncompromising. Indications are that Barney Fields will now direct High Note’s fortunes.
From one of several Houston Person encounters with bassist Ron Carter on labels overseen by Joe Fields, here is “Mr. Bow Tie.”
Joe Fields, RIP.