Ozzie Cadena

Biography by

As a longtime staff producer for Savoy Records, Ozzie Cadena guided the fledgling careers of future jazz immortals including McCoy Tyner, Cal Tjader, Bill Evans, Donald Byrd, and Cannonball Adderley.…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

As a longtime staff producer for Savoy Records, Ozzie Cadena guided the fledgling careers of future jazz immortals including McCoy Tyner, Cal Tjader, Bill Evans, Donald Byrd, and Cannonball Adderley. Born September 26, 1924, in Oklahoma City, Cadena was raised in Newark, NJ -- as a child he shined shoes to fund weekly pilgrimages to Harlem, where he soaked in the local music, and over time he even began attending African-American churches to experience their gospel choirs firsthand. After serving with the U.S. Marines in World War II, Cadena settled in New York City in 1945, studying bass and piano prior to landing his own jazz radio show in Newark. In 1951 he joined the staff of Herman Lubinsky's Savoy Records as a producer and A&R head, and during his tenure with the label, it emerged as one of the premier imprints in jazz. In addition to producing sessions featuring then-unknowns like Tyner and Tjader, Cadena helmed Savoy dates headlined by artists including Milt Jackson, Art Pepper, the Modern Jazz Quartet, and Charles Mingus -- he spent over eight years with the label in all, during that time also overseeing Savoy's shift into gospel via recordings spotlighting James Cleveland and Clara Ward. Upon exiting Savoy, Cadena served with Prestige, Blue Note, and Fantasy, producing a series of classic soul-jazz dates headlined by Sonny Stitt, Shirley Scott, and Kenny Burrell. In 1974 Cadena and his family relocated to Hermosa Beach, CA, where he opened his own record store and also assumed booking duties for the famed jazz club the Lighthouse Café. In addition, his son Dez earned rock & roll immortality as a member of the pioneering SoCal hardcore band Black Flag, followed by an extended stint with a latter-day incarnation of the Misfits. Ozzie Cadena died of pneumonia on April 9, 2008.