A simple, yet incredibly intriguing question stimulated me to pursue a label profile for the remarkable Fresh Sounds, New Talent, jazz label. That is, why is the vibrant New York City small-group jazz scene being documented by a label out of Barcelona?
Until recently, I was under the assumption that they were US based. I confess, my familiarity with the label was limited solely for a time to my first dose of one Kurt Rosenwinkel (East Coast Love Affair (FSNT-016)), who received a well-deserved boost in worldwide notoriety through his subsequent association with Verve. Of late, I was fortunate enough to interview Kurt's contemporary and successor in Paul Motian's electric bebop Band, Mr. Ben Monder. Ben records under his own name on Arabesque and Songlines, but pointed me, (and the rest of you) after some prodding, to a few of his noteworthy appearances on Fresh Sounds, including Chris Cheek's A Girl named Joe (stupendous), The Gorka Benitez trio (FSNT-073-fantastic), Bill McHenry's Rest Stop (FSNT-033-superb) and Reid Anderson's The Vastness of Space (where I must pause to gather up myself).
Now, Vastness received a very nice review from our own David Adler and some cool mention in other media , but trust me, these undemonstrative pundits are all understating. "The Vastness of Space" is one of the finest small group recordings in recent memory, of all time, even. Come to find out it was knocked out in two recording days, as are all of the Fresh Sounds products. Mr. Adler applied the word "hooks" to the melodies on this record, a wonderful turning of phrase, making good use of a pop-associated term, with which I whole-heartedly concur. After much deeper digging into the catalogue, I think it's the label's shining achievement thus far, a five-and-a-quarter-star deserving masterstroke for an imprint that is as close to a label guarantee as fans of small group mainstream jazz are going to get today. In today's world of megacorporately downsized, relic labels, fronting with nostalgic bravado as their former nurturing and caring fraternities of musical apprenticeship and camaraderie, "Fresh Sounds/New Talent" is the new name tantamount to the "Good housekeeping Seal of Approval" for today's mainstream jazz lover.
We've reviewed some great Fresh Sounds pieces recently, including:
Trumpeter David Weiss's Breathing Room
Belgian alto saxophonist Stephane Mercier's Flor De Luna
Israeli bassist's Omer Avital's Think With Your Heart
Spanish bassist's Alexis Cuadrado's Metro
Saxophonist Andrew Rathbun's True Stories
Pianist Roberta Piket's speak, memory
Three George Colligan discs Como La Vida Puede Ser, Unresolved, and Desire.
Let's summarize shall we-there is a whole lot of positivity being conveyed at AAJ regarding the Fresh Sounds and the New Talent.
Here are a couple more newer releases: