Bernard Stollman, founder of New York record label ESP-Disk, has died.

Stollman’s influential imprint released acclaimed jazz records from artists such as Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman and Pharoah Sanders, with the latter making his recording debut on the label in 1964. ESP-Disk reports that Stollman passed away last night following a battle with colon cancer. He was 85.

Stollmann launched ESP-Disk in 1963, originally as an outlet for Eperanto-based music. The label went on to release some of the most influential avant-garde and free jazz recordings. The second release on the label was Albert Ayler’s Spirital Unity, widely considered to be a free jazz classic.

Although most of ESP-Disk’s most well-known releases came via legendary jazz artists, the label also released works from the likes of William S. Burroughs, Timothy Leary and Cromagnon.

Stollman shut down ESP-Disk in the mid-1970s before serving as Assistant Attorney General of the State of New York until his retirement in 1991. He later relaunched ESP-Disk in 2005. [via Pitchfork]



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