Hard bop-into-the-spiritual trumpeter Charles Tolliver has recorded a new album that London label Gearbox say is titled Connect and which will be released this summer. It was recorded at RAK Studios in London in late-2019. Tolliver is with Jesse …
Published: 23 Apr 2020.Updated: 2 years.
Hard bop-into-the-spiritual trumpeter Charles Tolliver has recorded a new album that London label Gearbox say is titled Connect and which will be released this summer. It was recorded at RAK Studios in London in late-2019. Tolliver is with Jesse Davis on alto saxophone, Keith Brown on piano, Buster Williams on double bass, and Lenny White on drums with saxophonist Binker Golding guesting on a couple of tracks. Born in Florida in 1942 Tolliver played with Jackie Mclean and Max Roach in the 1960s and is revered for among other recordings Paper Man in 1968. With Stanley Cowell he founded Strata-East Records in 1971.
Labels go in cycles. At the moment it's extremely difficult out there certainly in terms of getting physical product out apart from via mail order. Some labels may well go bust or into hibernation until the dust settles after Covid. But compared to …
Labels go in cycles. At the moment it's extremely difficult out there certainly in terms of getting physical product out apart from via mail order. Some labels may well go bust or into hibernation until the dust settles after Covid. But compared to the shut down club scene, labels at least are still out there functioning.
Is anyone really making any cash from streaming…? Probably not given that it takes huge numbers of streams to add up to anything significant. However streaming is a fact of life. Labels can use it for promo as a loss leader so at least defraying some of their marketing costs instead of being over reliant on publicity firms a trend that is happening more and more via their in-house efforts and canny social media usage.
OK, so which labels spanning the last few months are really cooking with gas? Here are 10 star performers based on our Best 2020 list that includes both albums and tracks. Peruse the list, there is a lot of good stuff there to catch up on. Needless to say you read it here first!
Given that a lot of artists have to pay all their recording costs and then give their work to labels for free the deal usually involving the label picking up the tab for unit pressings, marketing and admin plus distribution overheads I always like it when an artist is able to do it all and more to the point do it well. Take Twilight Jaguar for Byron Wallen, the best UK jazz release of the year so far and Screwgun (Tim Berne's label) taking matters into their own hands. However it is not for the faint hearted and won't always get sales or distribution. Online distribution seems to be best handled by Orchard incidentally. It's been like that for a while. As for big labels, anything to do with the majors whether an imprint or distributed, these blow just as hot and cold in terms of A&R as the small outfits. However Impulse did well with the new Ted Poor and Shabaka and the Ancestors.
Over at Blue Note the new Kandace Springs record is her best to date but the Gregory Porter singles so far are disappointing. The Joey Alexander record on Verve is also excellent. It's good to see Nonesuch using Bandcamp and the prospect of the return of the Moodswingers. Will Blue Note or Warners follow suit? Concord has been quiet of late but I like the look of Gentleman by Curtis Stigers an artist who continues to grow and endear. I don't think we should get too hung up on labels although it's still nice to see a really good curated roster by a brand you can believe in continuing to introduce new music in an intelligent way. Long may that continue.
Ubuntu, definitely the top UK label at the moment in terms of new work from new artists.
Edition, again from the UK doing good work but relying on tried and tested names more than in the past. Their Kurt Elling and Danilo Pérez album however is outstanding.
Intakt, reinventing how we see an avant label. Sometimes they get caught up in a blind alley of obscurity but increasingly this is the label to go to first for top ''free jazz''.
Abstract Logix, wonderful John McLaughlin album so far this year makes it shoot up our reckoning after forgetting about it for a while.
Babel Not much output but Affinity is superb.
Screwgun Tim Berne steers the ship. It's an ocean liner.
Twilight Jaguar Great to have Byron Wallen back in action again and both live and on record his new work sizzles.
Pi Top avant label always first for aesthetics.
Biophilia Artist-run label. Pushes the boundaries as ever. Check the brilliant new Sara Serpa.
Endectomorph Hayoung Lyou is a revelation.
Patchier by far although some good releases dotted about
Quiet start to the year. The new Benjamin Moussay record however is a must.
Whirlwind No real direction to their output, too eclectic in some ways, but always worth checking out. Do they put out too many records? Possibly yes. Label awayday post-Lockdown needed to sort out a clearer strategy, perhaps. Getting Rudresh Mahanthappa on board is a recent highlight, however.
ACT Very variable. However their Andreas Schaerer record was a pleasure.
Sunnyside Check the new Martial Solal and Dave Liebman and stunning new Carolina Calvache. Other records did not instil quite as much enthusiasm in me although always a label always worth watching for surprises.