Bob Koester, who based the influential Chicago blues and jazz label Delmark Information and was additionally the proprietor of an equally influential report retailer the place gamers and followers mingled as they sought out new and classic sounds, died on Wednesday at a care heart in Evanston, Ailing., close to his dwelling in Chicago. He was 88.
His spouse, Sue Koester, stated the trigger was problems of a stroke.
Mr. Koester was a pivotal determine in Chicago and past, releasing early efforts by Solar Ra, Anthony Braxton, Jimmy Dawkins, Magic Sam and quite a few different jazz and blues musicians. He captured the sound of Chicago’s vibrant blues scene of the Nineteen Sixties on information like “Hoodoo Man Blues,” a a lot admired album by the singer and harmonica participant Junior Wells, that includes the guitarist Buddy Man, that was recorded in 1965.
“Bob advised us, ‘Play me a report similar to you performed final night time within the membership,’” Mr. Man recalled in a 2009 interview with The New York Instances, and in some way he caught the electrical really feel of a stay efficiency. In 2008 the report was named to the Grammy Corridor of Fame.
About the identical time, Delmark was recording early examples of the avant-garde jazz being promulgated by the pianist Muhal Richard Abrams and different members of the Affiliation for the Development of Artistic Musicians, a corporation fashioned in Chicago in 1965. The corporate’s recordings weren’t, usually, the sort that generated a variety of gross sales.
“If he felt one thing was important, he wasn’t going to consider whether or not it will promote,” Ms. Koester stated by cellphone. “He wished folks to listen to it and expertise the importance.”
As Howard Mandel, the jazz critic and creator, put it in a cellphone interview: “He adopted his personal star. He was by no means all in favour of developments.”
For many years Mr. Koester’s report retailer, the Jazz Report Mart, supplied sufficient monetary help to permit Delmark to make information that didn’t promote a variety of copies. The shop was greater than an outlet for Delmark’s artists; it was filled with all kinds of information, a lot of them from collections Mr. Koester purchased or traded for.
“The place was simply an incredible crossroads of individuals,” stated Mr. Mandel, who labored there for a time within the early Seventies. Music lovers would come on the lookout for obscure information; vacationers would come due to the shop’s fame; musicians would come to swap tales and concepts.
“Shakey Walter Horton and Ransom Knowling would dangle on the market, and Sunnyland Slim and Homesick James have been at all times dropping by,” the harmonica participant and bandleader Charlie Musselwhite, who was a clerk on the retailer within the mid-Nineteen Sixties, advised The Instances in 2009, rattling off the names of some fellow blues musicians. “You by no means knew what fascinating characters would wander in, so I at all times felt like I used to be within the eye of the storm there.”
Mr. Mandel stated a part of the enjoyable was tapping into Mr. Koester’s deep reservoir of arcane musical data.
“You’d get right into a dialog with him,” he stated, “and in 10 minutes he was speaking about some obscure wormhole of a serial quantity on a urgent.”
Ms. Koester stated the shop held a particular place in her husband’s coronary heart — a lot in order that when he lastly closed it in 2016, citing rising hire, he opened one other, Bob’s Blues and Jazz Mart, nearly instantly.
“He liked going into the studio within the days when he was recording Junior Wells and Jimmy Dawkins,” she stated, “however retail was in his blood.”
He particularly liked speaking to clients.
“Usually they got here into the shop on the lookout for one factor,” she stated, “and he pointed them in one other path.”
Robert Gregg Koester was born on Oct. 30, 1932, in Wichita, Kan. His father, Edward, was a petroleum geologist, and his mom, Mary (Frank) Koester, was a homemaker.
He grew up in Wichita. A 78 r.p.m. report by the Unique Dixieland Jazz Band in his grandfather’s assortment intrigued him when he was younger, he stated in an oral historical past recorded in 2017 by the Nationwide Affiliation of Music Retailers. However, he advised Richard Marcus in a 2008 interview for blogcritics.com, additional musical exploration wasn’t straightforward.
“I by no means appreciated nation music, and rising up in Wichita, Kansas, there wasn’t a lot else,” he stated. “There was a thriller to the names of these previous blues guys — Speckled Purple, Pinetop Perkins — that made it sound actually interesting. Most likely one thing to do with a repressed Catholic upbringing.”
School at Saint Louis College, the place he enrolled to check cinematography, broadened his musical alternatives.
“My dad and mom didn’t need me going to high school in one of many large cities like New York or Chicago as a result of they didn’t need me to be distracted from my research by music,” he stated. “Sadly for them, there have been Black jazz golf equipment throughout the college.”
He additionally joined the St. Louis Jazz Membership, a jazz appreciation group. And he began accumulating and buying and selling information, particularly conventional jazz 78s, out of his dorm room. The quickly rising report enterprise crowded out his research.
“I went to a few years at Saint Louie U,” he stated within the oral historical past. “They advised me to not come again for a fourth 12 months.”
His dorm-room enterprise become a retailer, the place he bought each new and used information.
“I’d make common runs, hitting all of the secondhand shops, Father Dempsey’s Charities, locations like that, shopping for used information,” he advised The St. Louis Submit-Dispatch in 1993 for an article marking the fortieth anniversary of the founding of his report label. “And I’d order information by way of the mail. Then I’d promote information on the Jazz Membership conferences. That was the start of my retail enterprise.”
He had began recording musicians as effectively. He initially referred to as his label Delmar, after a St. Louis boulevard, however as soon as he relocated to Chicago within the late Nineteen Fifties he added the Ok.
He acquired a Chicago report store from a trumpeter named Seymour Schwartz in 1959 and shortly turned it into the Jazz Report Mart. His label not solely recorded the gamers of the day but in addition reissued older recordings.
“He liked obscure report labels from the ‘30s and ‘40s, and he acquired a number of of them,” Mr. Mandel stated. “He reissued a variety of stuff from pretty obscure artists who had recorded independently. He salvaged their finest work.”
Mr. Koester was white; a lot of the artists he handled have been Black.
“He was completely into Black music,” Mr. Mandel stated. “Not solely Black music, however he undoubtedly gave Black music its due in a means that different labels weren’t.”
That made Mr. Koester stand out in Chicago when he went out in town sampling expertise.
“When a white man confirmed up in a Black bar, it was assumed he was both a cop, a invoice collector or on the lookout for intercourse,” Mr. Koester advised blogcritic.com. “Once they came upon you have been there to take heed to the music and for no different motive, you have been a good friend. The worst instances I had have been from white cops who would try to throw me out of the bars. They in all probability thought I used to be there dealing medication or one thing.”
It was the ambiance of these nightclubs that he tried to seize in his recording studio.
“I don’t imagine in manufacturing,” he stated. “I’m not about to usher in a bunch of stuff which you can’t hear a man doing when he’s up onstage.”
Along with his spouse, whom he met when she labored throughout the road from his retailer and whom he married in 1967, Mr. Koester is survived by a son, Robert Jr.; a daughter, Kate Koester; and two grandchildren.
Ms. Koester stated their son will proceed to function Bob’s Blues and Jazz Mart. Mr. Koester bought Delmark in 2018.
Mr. Koester’s report firm performed an vital function in documenting two musical genres, however his spouse stated that past taking part in just a little piano, he was not musically educated himself.
“He would say his music was listening,” she stated.