What do we as a community look for in a jazz label nowadays when often, especially while consuming jazz as a stream, the label isn't even obvious and the artwork is a tiny image? It's no longer a case of looking for sleeve notes either given that the format does not allow for them unless you choose physical and even there quite a few labels do not offer significant sleeve notes apart from reissues. But there is no doubt that convenience drives choice of format, quality of sound (yes even on a stream) and access via your phone or laptop makes life a lot easier when your records are stuck somewhere in your loft or filed away and you're not at home to take them out and prefer to be agile instead. People want different things. Above all a label is a great curator of music and breathes new air. The label chooses artists that somehow hang together even when styles are poles apart sometimes thriving on the contrasts but not jarring as a collective of people and ideas. Labels can drive new styles in jazz and above all they stand for something tangible so anyone coming to them know they are going to be inspired.
Here's our pick for our August update of the indies making a difference with what's recent or coming up:
2/ Mack Avenue (USA) For the hot prospect that is Kenny Garrett's first album in 5 years
3/ Efpi (England) For the absolutely essential Revival Room
4/ Savant (USA) For JD Allen's solo explorations, Queen City
5/ Rainy Days (Russia) for the considerable prospect that is Rachel Eckroth's The Garden
For more read the July update
And June's guide is here