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All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Record Label Profiles

Sharp Nine Records

By Published: December 9, 2007

Thoughout the last dozen years Edelman has always stuck to his original mission in his New Jersey-based venture, to record the best in straight-ahead and, as he likes to describe it, bebop and hard bop-derived music that's "in the pocket. "I haven't changed my focus because this is really what I love and I wouldn't be able to make stuff that I don't really like. I'm just a straight-ahead guy. For me it's melody, harmony and rhythm, swing and the feeling of swing. That's what I like and that's what I think jazz music is all about.

Staying alive as a small label hasn't been easy. And with two kids needing to be financed through college—one of whom has turned out to be a "good alto player, says Dad—it hasn't got any easier. "It's a tough thing with a small business, says Edelman. "We can't do market research, we function on anecdotal evidence. People read reviews, hear stuff on the radio, read other things, and some wander into a club and see somebody ... But it's fragmented. There's no one way that people find out about you. In fact, they don't find out enough. Because there are so few jazz fans in such a large population, it's hard to market effectively to them. And with sales coming down as they have, there's less money for advertising. I'm just trying to keep my costs down while still putting out a quality product, using good studios and musicians and photographers, hoping that the core fans will find those records and hope for the best. It's rough.

With some 40 releases in his catalog, he is trying to ride with the times. "All my stuff is available for digital downloads from itunes and emusic... and some decent money is coming in. But what I am actually thinking about is putting out some of the stuff on vinyl, because there is a vinyl market out there. Obviously with vinyl, no one's copying it, no one's stealing it. The point is to have the vinyl and put it on your $5,000 turntable and listen to it. So that does away with the problem of people not paying for music.

Meanwhile, no matter what the challenges, life goes on. "When I started I had not spent one second in any facet of the music business, not in retail, not in wholesale, not in a studio ... nothing. So I feel gratified that I'm still here to talk about it 12 years later.

Edelman, who readily acknowledges the not-small contribution of his supportive wife through all of this, can't help but wonder how things might have gone if from day one he knew what he does now. Not possible, after all. But artistically, he doesn't doubt he got a good break. "I was lucky when I started to get around (the music scene) to wander into a group of guys who were really good musicians, says Edelman. "Sometimes I think I could have as easily wandered into a crowd that was not as good and I would have made a few records and been done.

Luckily, for straight-ahead fans and musicians, it didn't turn out that way.

Sharp Nine Reviews at All About Jazz.

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