In 1961, musician, arranger, composer, and producer Harold Battiste opened an office and informal record store here for All For One Records (AFO). As an artist and an A&R man for Specialty Records, Battiste had seen how white record executives could make vast profits on royalties from records made by black musicians who received just one-time payments for their time in the studio. He felt that black musicians should earn more and elevate their social standing by becoming owners of the music they created. He formed AFO to fulfill this vision: Its recording artists owned stock in the company.
Battiste recruited top-flight studio musicians including Peter “Chuck” Badie (bass), John Boudreaux (drums), Melvin Lastie (cornet), and Alvin “Red” Tyler (saxophone) to join him as founding members of AFO. The label scored a national hit right away with “I Know (You Don’t Love Me No More)” featuring vocals by Barbara George and a standout cornet solo written by Battiste and played by Lastie. AFO attracted additional black artists such as singer Tami Lynn, who recorded the album Compendium with the company and appeared in concert with a band of her label-mates called the AFO Executives.
Though R&B paid the bills, Battiste’s passion as a musician was modern jazz, and AFO recorded the artists leading that movement in New Orleans, such as Alvin Batiste, Nathaniel Perrilliat, and James Black. Battiste documented this vanguard on the album Monkey Puzzle by the Ellis Marsalis Quartet. After its release in 1963, distribution problems contributed to the AFO experiment being mothballed. Battiste moved to Los Angeles and, after a productive career there, returned to New Orleans in 1989. He revived AFO in the 1990s, issuing previously unreleased early recordings and new material, including albums by his students at the University of New Orleans jazz-studies program.
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All For One: Harold Battiste with Peter Guralnick from the 2008 Ponderosa Stomp History Conference.
Story of a Jazz Man: A Tribute to Harold Battiste panel from the 2015 Ponderosa Stomp History Conference, with Peter "Chuck" Badie and Jessie McBride.
Here Come the Girls: Women in Rock, Country, and Soul, Mary Weiss, Lorrie Collins, and Tami Lynn with Holly George-Warren from the 2008 Ponderosa Stomp History Conference.