Black Jazz Records was founded in 1969, and released its first four albums on August 1, 1971. The founders were Gene Russell, a jazz pianist, and Dick Schory, a Grammy-nominated percussionist also known for his development of the stereo recording techniques quadraphonic sound, Dynagroove, and RCA Victor's Stereo Action. Schory founded Ovation Records in 1969, after leaving RCA. Ovation financed and distributed Black Jazz Records, while Russell served as an A&R executive. Russell also produced and engineered the label's initial releases, while maintaining complete artistic control through his production company, GR Productions.
Russell's vision for Black Jazz Records was for it to be geared towards the Black community, and all of the artists recording for the label were African American. The label was created as an alternative to traditional jazz, invoking a more political and spiritual tone, often with funk overtones. Black Jazz released various types of music including, funk, free jazz and soul jazz. Black Jazz Records was also known for its unique album cover concept, which was copyrighted by the label. The concept included a design that allowed the title to be shown regardless of how the albums were positioned in the browsing rack at record stores. All of the albums had white lettering on a black background, with the liner notes and personnel listed in the same place on each of the label's releases. Russell organized a promotional tour for the label in September 1971. In addition to promoting the first four Black Jazz albums, Russell and his marketing consultant Ray Lawrence did radio, television and newspaper interviews to showcase the label and its artists. A 1974 Billboard magazine article reported that Doug Carn, one of the label's more successful artists, sold more records than Dave Brubeck and Ramsey Lewis at that time. The label existed for six years during its first run, folding in 1975.