Jazz impresario Norman Granz died Thursday in Geneva, Switzerland, of cancer, Billboard Bulletin reports. He was 83.

Jazz impresario Norman Granz died Thursday in Geneva, Switzerland, of cancer, Billboard Bulletin reports. He was 83.

Granz is credited with breaking down racial barriers in the early days of the civil-rights movement by bringing integrated ensembles to U.S. concert halls as part of his "Jazz at the Philharmonic" series. He was key in eliminating the system under which white artists were paid more than black ones; Granz would cancel shows if musicians were not treated equally.

Granz owned four labels -- Verve, Clef, Norgran, and Pablo -- on which he released material by jazz's biggest artists, including Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Charlie Parker. He became Fitzgerald's manager in 1954, building her career through her popular "songbook" releases, in which she put her stamp on songs by top U.S. writers.