It is with great sadness we announce the passing of beloved jazz music visionary and entrepreneur, Larry Rosen, who passed away at his New Jersey home surrounded by family, Oct. 9, 2015 at the age of 75 after a valiant battle with brain cancer.
In a legendary career that spanned over five decades, Rosen was a lifelong jazz lover who among his many achievements helped redefine the American jazz label, pioneered the merge of music and technology, and most recently revived the performance arena for jazz with the JAZZ ROOTSconcert series and educational programs.
Rosen began his musical career as a drummer with the Newport Youth Band, meeting future partner Dave Grusin while working with singer Andy Williams and attending the Manhattan School of Music. In 1972, Grusin and Rosen formed Grusin/Rosen Productions which would evolve from a freelance production team to a performer-centric jazz label over the next few years, discovering and developing homegrown talent like Patti Austin, Lee Ritenour, Earl Klugh, and Noel Pointer.
In 1978, Grusin/Rosen Productions signed a long-term deal with Arista Records president Clive Davis. Arista/GRP outperformed commercial expectations and redefined the boutique American jazz label. In 1979, Rosen used the opportunity to advance the state of the art engineering, co-producing the Dave Grusin album Mountain Dance–the first- digitally recorded non-classical album.
Grusin and Rosen established GRP Records, Inc., in 1982. Under their dual proprietorship, Rosen’s personal enthusiasm for digital recording was translated into a corporate mission. Their pioneering all digital approach became well-known as the “digital master company,” releasing their entire catalog on Compact Disc- which helped launch the format in the United States.
GRP Records was recognized as Billboard Magazine’s #1 Contemporary Jazz label for five consecutive years while its artists were nominated for over 80 GRAMMY Awards, winning 33. GRP’s artist roster grew to include many notable artists including Chick Corea, Lee Ritenour, Diana Krall,Diane Schuur, Patti Austin, Dr. John, Dave Grusin, Spyro Gyra, The Rippingtons, David Benoit, The New York Voices, Tom Scott, Gary Burton, B.B. King, Ramsey Lewis, Arturo Sandoval, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Larry Carlton, Yellowjackets, Don Grusin, Kevin Eubanks and theGRP All-Star Big Band. In 1990, Rosen and Grusin sold GRP Records to MCA Records with Rosen remaining as President & CEO of the label.
Soon after leaving GRP in 1995, Rosen went on to co-found one of the first Internet e-commerce and content companies, N2K, Inc. (NASDAQ). Serving as its chairman and CEO, Rosen led the company to an IPO offering. In addition to its online music store, Music Boulevard, N2K produced a number of genre-based community sites (Rocktropolis, Jazz Central Station, Classical Insites) and artist sites including Leonard Bernstein, Miles Davis, David Bowie, and The Rolling Stones. N2K was also a digital music distribution pioneer, offering the first digital downloads in late 1996. At the height of the Internet business in 1999, Mr. Rosen successfully merged N2K Inc. with one of its top competitors, CDNow Inc. Rosen appeared on the cover of Forbes Magazine as an Internet Icon In 1998.
As chairman of Larry Rosen Productions, he created and produced the critically acclaimed PBS television HD series LEGENDS OF JAZZ , with pianist Ramsey Lewis, and the 7 part television series titled RECORDING: The History of Recorded Music, with hosts Quincy Jones and Phil Ramone.
In 2008, Rosen created “JAZZ ROOTS – A Larry Rosen Jazz Series,” a concert and educational program for performing arts centers. JAZZ ROOTS first launched at the Adrienne Arsht Center For the Performing Arts of Miami Dade County and in its eighth successful season is credited for making Miami a jazz capital of the world. With its success, the series grew to performing arts centers and venues in Dallas, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Las Vegas and Orlando. World class artists have appeared throughout the series including Dave Brubeck, Sonny Rollins, Chick Corea, Paquito D’Rivera, John McLaughlin, Ramsey Lewis, Eliane Elias, Ivan Lins, Buddy Guy, Dr. John, Sergio Mendes, Manhattan Transfer, Al Jarreau, Aaron Neville, Dianne Reeves, Wynton Marsalis, Jon Hendricks, Dave Grusin, Jon Secada and many more.
In 2012, he established the annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition (SASSY Award), at NJPAC in Newark, New Jersey, which is now entering its fourth successful year.
Mr. Rosen was the recipient of the Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year Award” in New Media and Entertainment, the GRAMMY Governor Honor Roll, served on the boards of the Dave Brubeck Institute, The Music for Youth Foundation, The Frost School of Music Steering Committee, NFAA/ Young Arts and with Dave Grusin is the founder of the National Foundation for Jazz Education. Mr. Rosen received an Honorary Doctorate from Manhattan School of Music in 2013.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Hazel and his devoted children J.J. and Leslie Rosen, Sandra and Glenn Honigman; his grandchildren, Matthew, Sammy, Eric, Craig; his mother Vivian Rosen and sister Susan Zelinka.
A private family service will be followed by a forthcoming public memorial service, details will be announced shortly.
The family requests that donations can be made in memory of Larry Rosen to “The Trustees of Columbia/Dr. Fabio Iwamoto’s Research” and sent to:
Columbia University Medical Center/Office of Development
Attn: Matt Reals
100 Haven Avenue, Suite 29D
New York, NY 10032