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7Dreams: The Story of a Country, a Friendship and a Sound

7Dreams: The Story of a Country, a Friendship and a Sound
Jakob Baekgaard By

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I think without a tradition and documentation of our jazz history we will never be able to have an identity. What am I? - just a good player and an imitator of this style or musician? I think those times have gone away, we don't need to imitate anybody —Nicolas Simion
One of the things that is great about the digital age is how easy it is to get access to music from different parts of the world. Pluralism is the keyword. Jazz is not just one thing and each country has its specific take on the jazz tradition. However, sometimes jazz musicians of a particular country forget their own heritage because they are too busy following the latest trend. This is not the case with Nicolas Simion, Romanian saxophonist and owner of the label 7Dreams. To Simion, originality is inextricably linked to an awareness of history, in his case the history of Romanian jazz, and he has done a lot to preserve the music of his country -not only through new recordings and arrangements of old tunes, but also through historical releases with Romanian jazz masters like pianists Richard Oschanitzky and Jancy Körössy whose importance and position could be compared to that of pianist Krzysztof Komeda in Poland.

All About Jazz: When did you start the label and how did it happen?

Nicolas Simion: I started in 2004 and I wanted it to be a documentation of the most important Romanian jazz music and a platform for some of the best Romanian jazz musicians. I wanted to make a documentation of my work too, of the recordings I did, starting in 1991 when I started to make studio and live recordings in Western Europe, in Austria and Germany etc.

I worked with TUTU Records producer Peter Wiessmueller from 1991 until 2000 and somehow I was not satisfied with how things developed. Afterwards I tried finding a new label in Germany, with no success, so I decided to start my own thing and put out the recordings I did myself. And after 10 years I think that it was a good decision, at least I did what I thought was good for the music and for the musicians and not only for the business and the money -the things almost every producer is looking for!

AAJ: Is there a story behind the name of the label? Why is it called 7Dreams?

NS: Well, first I like that magic number 7 and I am somehow a dreamer. I couldn't say "dreamer #7" or "dreamer X" but because we all have dreams, good or bad...I decided to only have 7 dreams! It sounds funny maybe, but what else can we do in our lives than try to realize some of our dreams? Believing in something and struggling to make it happen -this is my philosophy!

AAJ: How many people are involved with the label and what is your own role?

NS: The label is more or less a "one man show," but I do have some friends who are helping and supporting me release all those CDs. Like Ana Maria Gavrila from Brasov (Romania), an old friend who is helping me with the printing and manufacturing, all the graphic work and the rollings, printing also the CDs. She is also helping me with all the formalities, paper work, contracts, bank booking etc, also distributing the CDs in Romania etc.

Another important person is my friend Knut Schötteldreier from Cologne, a great graphic designer and layout guy who did almost all the covers and booklets, except the texts. I also have some other friends who are helping me with their recording and mixing studios, of course not for free! And last but not least my musician friends, all of them who did their best and put their signature on the music we played together!

AAJ: Do you have your own studio and office?

NS: Actually, I don't have my own studio or office and I can not afford to work every day for that. I can not afford to have somebody employed and work as a PR or so. But until now there are about 25 CDs out and things are getting better. My main role is to find the money and keep running and putting the CDs out!

AAJ: You are a musician yourself. How does that influence the way you run your label?

NS: I am a saxophonist and a composer, sometimes arranger and producer. I started to think about all those things, repertoire, line up, band, recording, mixing, mastering, finding the money for everything, producing the music finally from the very beginning in 1991. It is a work in progress, you are learning from your own experiences and from your own mistakes.

I am trying to concentrate myself on music, playing, writing, performing and not only on making music business. We all need to be a bit of a manager and a producer and make it happen in that jungle music business where big labels are just making our existence almost impossible! In the end it´s (almost) all about the money. The big brothers are not really interested in music, but selling and making images and controlling the market. The printed mass media, electronic mass media, radio and tv shows, festivals and also some clubs are under their influence or even control. And the big brother is always right because he is stronger and has money and power, has contacts and some people working for them. It is not a joke, it is real. Nothing new, it was the same before and it will stay the same, even though the infrastructure is changing with the internet evolution, distribution, download, sales etc.

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