Vai has started an imprint for jazz artists called Favored Nations Cool, a spinoff from his 4-year-old Favored Nations label. Early signees include guitarist Larry Coryell and Novocento featuring guitarist Stanley Jordan.
Favored Nations Cool's initial release, San Francisco area guitarist Mimi Fox's "She's the Woman," is due March 23.
"The idea to eventually grow and branch out into other genres has always been our intention at Favored Nations," said Vai. "Ray Scherr, my partner, is a big fan of good jazz and our mission with Favored Nations Cool is to find brilliant and dedicated jazz musicians to work with."
Vai's first stepped into the spotlight in 1980 as a guitarist in Frank Zappa's band. He has also had numerous soundtrack contributions, live and studio recordings with Alcatrazz, extensive solo releases and an eclectic art piece that includes music interspersed with dialogue.
Favored Nations won the 2002 Grammy for best pop instrumental album for "No Substitutions" by guitarists Larry Carlton and Steve Lukather.