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Record Label Profiles

Omnitone Records

By Published: April 5, 2004
Even with the more established artists who have recorded for OmniTone, Tafuri likes to find something unique or to choose projects that haven’t been over-recorded. For instance, there are plenty of Liebman records, but not with his big band. The String Trio of New York was around for decades before releasing Gut Reaction on OmniTone, but it was their first widely available live CD and their first with violinist Rob Thomas. Continuing that ethic, Tafuri launched Tone Science as a companion imprint with a CD from trumpeter Russ Johnson and pianist Mick Rossi, New Math. Artistically, the difference between the labels is a matter of degrees - OmniTone features composed works that promote improvisation, while Tone Science projects are improvised in the moment.

OmniTone and Tone Science occupy the fringes of jazz, and Tafuri knows it. But he is not above saying, “I want to sell records.” This is not to say that he would dilute the artistic integrity of the label with commercial-sounding projects, but that he is not above focusing on selling the music and reaching an audience. “When you’re not focused on sales, you’re not really helping the music at all,” he says. If no one is buying, then no one is hearing.

Tafuri has teamed up with other like-minded independent labels, such as Songlines, to approach foreign distributors, as an example of how collective efforts can be mutually beneficial. He also sells CDs from these other labels through the OmniTone website.

Not just a store, the website also acts as an archive of information about each of the CDs, including full transcriptions of interviews with the artists. This helps to educate listeners who want to learn more, which is the best way for the audience to expand. “I believe there is a contingent out there of enthusiastic music lovers that have just not been properly served,” Tafuri says. Are you one?

Visit OmniTone on the web at .

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