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America's Oldest Jazz/Blues Label Delmark Records Announces New Ownership

May 1st, 2018

Delmark Records, Chicago’s leading blues & jazz record label and studio, announces new ownership as it marks its 65th Anniversary in 2018. Effective immediately, Chicago musicians/composers/educators Julia A. Miller and Elbio Barilari have acquired the Delmark Records label and all of its subsidiary labels; the label’s catalogue of masters from the 1920s to the present; all the company’s inventory of CDs and LPs; and Riverside Studio, the traditional recording facility located at 4121 N. Rockwell in Chicago (also known as “Delmark House”).

seated in middle: Bob Koester, standing left to right: Elbio Barilari, Julia Miller, Steve Wagner
(photo credit: Dan Kasberger)

Under Miller and Barilari, Delmark Records will release several new albums by Fall 2018: a blues anthology celebrating the label’s 65th anniversary, a jazz title by Miller and Barilari’s musical collaboration project Volcano Radar featuring the multi-Grammy Award winner and NEA Jazz Master Paquito D'Rivera, a new album with guitar virtuoso Fareed Haque, and previously unreleased recordings by jazz innovator Sun Ra. So far, this year, Delmark Records has released three blues recordings: Night After Night by Corey Dennison Band, Back to Chicago by the Rockwell Avenue Blues Band, and the Bell Family tribute album.

“Owning a record label and recording studio has been a dream of mine for 25 years,” says Julia Miller who will serve as President and CEO of Delmark Records. “At the Art Institute, in my Song class, I always begin with spoken blues. Blues is a living history; Delmark embodies a living history of the blues in Chicago, and for the world.”

Elbio Barilari, who will serve as Vice President and Artistic Director, adds, “This is a very exciting opportunity both artistically and from a business perspective. Personally, it also offers me the chance to give back to Chicago’s musical community for the generous support I have been given during the 20 years I have been living here.”

Veteran Delmark Records producer and recording engineer Steve Wagner will remain as Studio Manager and Producer. Delmark Records’ owner and founder Bob Koester, Sr. will continue to run his record store Bob’s Blues and Jazz Mart (3419 W Irving Park, Chicago). Koester, Sr.’s legacy will be honored by the city of Chicago with a special salute at the 2018 Chicago Blues Festival on Friday, June 8, 2018. This special day-long celebration will kick off the annual festival and will feature a variety of Delmark artists including Sharon Lewis, Dave Specter, Linsey Alexander, and Eddie Taylor, Jr.; a jam session led by Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith; and a “Tribute to Those Who Came Before and Bob Koester,” including Jimmy Burns’ “Tribute to Big Joe Williams,” Lurrie and Steve Bell’s “Tribute to Carey Bell,” and Jimmy Johnson and Dave Specter’s “Tribute to Magic Sam.”

As Miller and Barilari settle into their new roles, they plan to honor Delmark’s roots while moving the label into the future. They will continue Delmark’s tradition as a family-run business while boosting and expanding Delmark Records’ operations in addition to building on the solid foundations put in place by Koester, Sr. The new management team also plans to mentor and educate younger generations and diverse communities about the rich musical history the label represents.







Julia A. Miller is a guitarist, composer, improviser, sound artist, visual artist, curator, and educator. She specializes in synthesized electric guitar, performing as a soloist, collaborator, and Volcano Radar band member. Miller’s new role at Delmark ties in with her current work with historical recording technology as a Professor of Sound at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). She also serves as Guitar Professor at Carthage College in Kenosha. She is also an Artistic Advisory Board member for High Concept Labs and Ragdale Foundation.

Miller was the first finalist in electronic music for the Gaudeamus Prize. A live recording of her solo performance on Chicago's Experimental Sound Studio Sunday Solos Series, "Solo Variations," was released as a digital EP on the Chicago netlabel Pan y Rosas. Miller also participated in the $100 Guitar Project, a double CD of improvised and composed short pieces by 65 different guitarists which was released on Bridge Records with proceeds benefitting CARE. Her music can also be heard on the Artco and Pilgrim Talk labels.

Miller was awarded the prestigious Helen and Tim Coburn Meier Foundation Award for her work with improvised opera. She received a DMA in composition from Northwestern University in 2005.



Uruguayan born composer, writer, and multi-instrumentalist Elbio Barilari moved to Chicago in 1998. He is a Professor of Jazz History and Latin American Music at UIC, hosts the internationally syndicated Latin American music radio show “Fiesta” on WFMT-FM, and is Co-Director of the Chicago Latino Music Festival.

Barilari is both a classical music composer and a jazz musician. His classical pieces have been commissioned and performed by orchestras and chamber ensembles such as Grant Park Music Festival, Ravinia Festival, Chicago Sinfonietta, Chicago Arts Orchestra, Avalon String Quartet, Fulcrum Point, Kaia String Quartet and many others at the national and international levels.

In the jazz and improvised music fields, Barilari has premiered five extended jazz compositions: “Gondwana Suite” at Millennium Park with Paquito D'Rivera’s United Nations Orchestra; “Lincolniana,” commissioned by Ravinia Festival for President Lincoln’s bicentennial and featuring Orbert Davis; “Sounds of Hope,” commissioned by the Morse Theater for President Obama’s first inauguration; “Flags from Ashes,” commissioned by WFMT-FM for the 10th anniversary of September 11th; and “Diasporas,” commissioned by the Cohn Foundation to celebrate Chicago’s ethnic and cultural diversity.



Delmark Records is America’s oldest existing jazz and blues independent record label. It was founded by Bob Koester Sr. in St. Louis, Missouri in 1953, originally under the name “Delmar.” In 1958, Koester and the label relocated to Chicago with the label’s current name: Delmark.

Throughout its history, Delmark has released records by historical jazz & blues artists such as Sonny Stitt, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Junior Wells, J. B. Hutto, Robert Nighthawk, Luther Allison, Magic Sam, Jimmy Dawkins, Malachi Thompson, Jimmy Johnson, Sleepy John Estes, Arthur Crudup, Otis Rush, Yank Rachell, and Roosevelt Sykes.

The label also has released albums by musicians from Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). The first record was Roscoe Mitchell's Sound (1966) which received a five-star review in Downbeat. This was followed by a string of releases on Delmark that highlighted the new music being played in Chicago by artists associated with the AACM including Muhal Richard Abrams, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, and Anthony Braxton. Additionally, Delmark released two of the earliest Sun Ra albums, Sun Song and Sound of Joy, in 1967 and 1968 respectively.

Today, Delmark is a force on the Chicago blues & jazz music scene with records by jazz artists such as Ari Brown, Ernest Dawkins, Nicole Mitchell, Paul Giallorenzo, Jason Stein, Frank Catalano, Rob Mazurek, Ken Vandermark, Fred Anderson, plus blues musicians including Zora Young, Ken Saydak, Byther Smith, Michael Coleman, Little Arthur Duncan, Eddie C. Campbell, and Jimmy Burns, among others.

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