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Record Label Profiles

Accurate Records: Growing Out of Boston

By Published: February 3, 2011
RG: It's becoming difficult to make money as any kind of record label, just ask the thousands of employees who have been laid off by the majors. It's not breaking news that over the past decade or more, the easy copying of digital files has made it increasingly hard to actually sell recorded music. As time goes by, the notion of physical distribution of products, which used to be one of the important elements of being a record label, has become less important. So, that "gatekeeper" aspect of labels is much reduced, although not gone. Accurate has enough of a track record so that my imprimatur does add some value to the titles I release, in that it will encourage journalists, radio programmers and even listeners to pick Accurate titles out of flood of music that is now released. It also helps contextualize what Accurate artists are doing, simply through association with the label's previous catalog.

AAJ: Could you say something about the different genres on the label—film music, jazz, rock and so on—and some of the artists that have shaped its sound?

RG: The film music releases have all come from one group of people, the Alloy Orchestra and one of their original members, the late Alloy Orchestra. My connection there is with percussionist/producer Ken Winokur, who has been a friend since we met in the Cambridge (MA) rock/art scene in the early 80s. Ken and the Alloy began playing live, percussion-heavy original soundtracks for silent films in the late 80s, and I've issued three of them. Caleb also composed scores for the great documentarian Errol Morris, and I've issued two of them. Morphine was the first rock band I released. I met their leader, the late Mark Sandman, in the mid-80s in Cambridge. He used to guest with the Either/Orchestra in our early years, as a singer and on guitar, and I played in his band Hypnosonics for many years, right until he died in 1999. When Morphine (which included Jerome Dupree, the first E/O drummer) finished its first album, it was a natural that I would help put it out. Subsequent rock artists like Willie Alexander, Bourbon Princess, Hummer, Asa Brebner and Fire in the Boathouse are people I have known around the scene either as a player or fan long before I worked with them. Once again, it's hard to put them in a stylistic category. They are all artists with tons of integrity, not trendy, not mainstream, very creative, good people, easy to work with.

AAJ: How busy is your release schedule? And how do you find your artists? Do you have your own studio that you use?

RG: In the 90s I had a kind of pressing and distribution deal with Rounder Records (connected to, but distinct from, Rounder Distribution), and I kept a busy and ambitious schedule with as many as ten releases a year. Now it's slower, one or two in most years, although I just released four on the same day back on August 2010: Mood Music for Time Travellers by the Either/Orchestra; Unduality by Greg Burk
Greg Burk
Greg Burk
and Vicente Lebron (a former and a current E/O member); Oy Yeah! by Klezwoods (Klezmer/Middle Eastern/Balkan band full of excellent jazz players); A Wallflower in the Amazon by Darrell Katz
Darrell Katz
Darrell Katz
and the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra (large ensemble jazz with art song texts, plus some hard core, wildly extended blues). I guess you could call this a typical Accurate batch: stylistically diverse, each a fantastic project executed in its own terms, Either/Orchestra connections, Boston based.

I don't have a studio of my own, although I did mix the recent E/O album on my own Pro Tools set up and I'll be doing more of that.

AAJ: How do you see the development of the label and what is your criterion for success? Can you say something about the upcoming releases?

RG: If you can project the development of the record industry, I'll project the development of the label! An Accurate release is a success if the artist feels that they have advanced their career, been widely and fairly reviewed and played on the radio, and created a worthy documentation of their work which is readily available through internet stores and by download, and which they can use for booking or selling at shows. The only upcoming product with a release date at the moment (March 2011) is Brian Carpenter's Ghost Train Orchestra with Hot House Stomp: The Music of 1920s Chicago and Harlem. It's a collection of meticulously transcribed and juicily played arrangements for a medium sized big band from the era before the familiar sound of 1930s big bands had been established. To me, this is a prime example of how old music can be recreated in a loving but non-stuffy way that brings new life to it.

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