Randall Jamail could have looked forward to a cushy career as a high-powered attorney when he finished law school. After all, he had worked as a glorified notetaker for his father, Joe, when he was successfully representing Pennzoil in its multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Texaco in 1985. Instead, Randall bought time at a Houston recording studio and hired professional musicians to help him put some of his musical ideas on tape. The experience led him to conclude that he wasn’t a very good guitarist or songwriter. “But,” he says, “I also learned that jazz players were the best musicians to call in to do session work.” So Jamail decided to become a music mogul and put all that jazz talent to work.
Today Jamail’s Justice Record Company is proving that a small boutique jazz label, operating in Houston, of all places, can profit from sales of 15,000—instead of 15 million—units. With an eclectic roster that includes guitar legend Herb Ellis, Swedish pianist Stefan Karlsson, and a young California trumpet player named Rebecca Coupe