11

ArtistShare: A Record Label for the Digital Age

ArtistShare: A Record Label for the Digital Age
Paul Naser By

Sign in to view read count
In the information age, as technology is transforming the way we share ideas, the creative artist seems to be in a dangerous situation. Peer-to-peer file sharing and free-streaming content are direct threats to an artists' livelihood. Combining this insight with a love for music and an appreciation for artists and the value of their work, Brian Camelio started his company, ArtistShare. After remarkable success with both its innovative model and its extraordinary roster of artists, it is celebrating its 10th anniversary by looking towards the future as it begins a partnership with Blue Note Records.

A music lover since childhood, Camelio grew up playing rock and roll and graduated college with a degree in classical composition. Working as a guitarist, he performed classical, jazz and rock music while writing and performing his own music, even working internationally. He took an interest in software programming in the mid-90's and found that he really liked it, saying of writing code, "I found it to be very similar to composing and I got as excited about it as I did writing music." Around this time the internet was starting to gain a lot of popularity, and, as Camelio was becoming more involved in programming and working on the web, it occurred to him that the music industry was going to change. "It occurred to me in 1999 or so, that this issue of file sharing was really going to be a problem for musicians. I could see that thing that we were basically making our money off of, which is selling recordings, was going to go away. Anything that could be digitized I could see as being a real problem. Even though the internet at the time wasn't mature enough to handle any sort of file size, it was very clear that that would change and it would be very convenient for people to start trading music and videos and whatever could be digitized."

As he was coming to this realization Camelio also was witnessing the mistreatment of some of his close friends by record companies. "Around that time as well, all my good friends in the city, people like Maria Schneider, Jim Hall, Chris Potter and David Binney, mostly in the jazz community, were having problems with their record labels. At some point I just got very angry about it and decided that it might be a good opportunity to come up with something that would put the power back into the hands of the artist, put the control back in the hands of the artists, because I kept hearing stories about people signing contracts that didn't realize what they were signing, or the label just flat out refusing to pay the artist; they did all the work and spent the money."

As these concepts bounced around in his head, Camelio thought about where the value really was in an artist's work. "Being a composer and musician, I view art and music as a timeline; all the big things that are created, like the greatest CDs, are a snapshot in that timeline. It's just capturing a certain moment in an artist's career. I started to view the value of what an artist does as being in the process, not necessarily in the end result or in one of the snapshots of that process." This realization is the central idea behind ArtistShare and is what gives the company its unique approach and model, to which it owes its great success. "I thought, maybe I can create a model where people pay for the process, and they pay to have something done, almost like a service, instead of having to rely on this end result which is this recorded music, and trying to sell that after the fact... I thought the idea of being able to watch the process, and to align yourself with the artist as a fan would be infinitely interesting. You can't copy it either; you can't steal the creative process from the artist. Present it as a story and get people involved." Related to this were two other key concepts that influenced ArtistShare's model.

One was an West African dance show that Camelio attended, where some audience members were so moved by the dancers' performances and solos that they would literally throw money at the dancers. He was really impressed by their honest and direct show of appreciation and playfully says of ArtistShare, "this is my digital solution to chucking dollar bills at the artist." Alongside this was a friendship that Camelio formed with Brazilian singer-songwriter/guitarist Milton Nascimento. When they first met, he had not really heard Nascimento's music; after listening to his music, Camelio says, "I was like, this guy is amazing! To this day, one of my major points of inspiration is, wouldn't it be great to be standing in the same room when he was creating a song, and what would I like to see as a fan?" All of these things together led to his unique vision of a community of artists and fans connected by their shared love of creativity. "From the very beginning of my obsession with music, which started as a young child, I can always remember wanting to know more and wanting to see how it was done... I'm still fascinated by it, by seeing the creative process in action. So that was my idea; I will create something where people can access the creative process, can pay the artist to do something and they can watch it and help create this community of fans and artists."

ArtistShare's model is not product- or result-oriented; instead, it focuses on allowing fans to become a part of the artist's process, watching the development of the end result as it goes through all the stages of becoming a completed work of art. It is not the funding by fans that sets ArtistShare apart from other companies. Kickstarter, to give one example, has emulated the ArtistShare model of crowd-sourced funding, but, as Camelio notes about such companies..." the focus is way too much on money. I think the artists can end up hurting themselves by going out and saying, 'Give me money for a project,' instead of focusing on, 'Hey, do you want to be part of my community, want to watch the creative process, want to get to know me?'" It is the element of getting to know the artist and being a part of the community that makes ArtistShare what it is. The fan gets to choose their desired level of participation, which can range from simply purchasing a copy of the finished project, in whatever form it takes (such as a CD or MP3 download), to being an executive producer of the project, which in the case of the many musical projects entitles the fan to prominent credit on the album as well as various other benefits which change depending on the artist and project; some of these could include: invitation to the mixing and mastering of the album, a private concert for the participant and their friends, VIP access to concerts for a year, a personalized copy of the finished product as well as access to all the exclusive video, audio and blog updates that document the process of the development of the project.

Aside from its groundbreaking model, ArtistShare has been a remarkable musical success since the beginning. One of the first albums the label released, Maria Schneider's Concert in the Garden, won a Grammy award for "Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album" in 2005, only two years after the label began releasing records. In the ten short years since then, five more ArtistShare albums/projects have won Grammys and the label has accumulated 18 Grammy nominations. Part of the secret to their success is the amount of attention that goes into the construction of each project. When asked about the acquisition of new artists, Camelio responded that they don't really reach out to new artists; in general artists seek them out, and, even then, the roster is intentionally kept limited. "Basically when we get a new artist, I spend a lot of time formulating a project and we spend a lot of time showing them the best practices for documenting their process and relaying it to their fans. It's a new thing, it's not necessarily intuitive, the way that we do things... We have more than a decade of experience with this and seeing what messages work for what artists and how to really get the best out of [their process]."

Consistent with their success and focus is their world-class roster of artists. In the jazz idiom, they include, as mentioned previously, Maria Schneider, Jim Hall, David Binney and Chris Potter, as well as: The Clayton Brothers, which includes John Clayton, Jeff Clayton and John's son, Gerald Clayton; Alex Skolnick; Sax Summit, which includes Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano and Ravi Coltrane; Jon Cowherd, co-founder of the Brian Blade Fellowship; Niels Lan Doky; Robin Eubanks; the late Bob Brookmeyer; Danilo Pérez; Julian Lage; Billy Childs; Brian Lynch; Donny McCaslin; Geoffrey Keezer; Alex Sipiagin; Scott Colley; Lindsey Horner; Jon Gordon; and Kevin Hays, among several others. Apart from supporting jazz musicians, ArtistShare is also home to a number of musicians from other genres, including singer-songwriters, composers of Latin and world music, composers such as Alf Clausen and has even helped produce a comedic country album by comedian Rick Moranis. They also fund creative projects by non-musical artists such as author Dan Oulette and his biography of Ron Carter and filmmaker Paul Devlin. This unique mix of genres and projects is evidence of ArtistShare's vision of creating a community where creative artists and their fans come together and sidestep the middlemen that are usually a central element in the traditional record label model.

It is this artist-centric, community based approach that makes ArtistShare unlike any other model available for artist funding. One of Camelio's main goals was to ensure the livelihood of artists. "In general, what I would like to see is to bring this model into every art form and to improve it as technology improves... to really create a new industry that will help alleviate the pain of an industry that previously had a product that can now be digitized and freely traded among people and to make sure the artist can still create. My future goal is to ensure that creative artists are able to create and get paid for what they do." ArtistShare is the first company to rely entirely on internet sales for its products. In fact, this is what made Schneider's 2005 Grammy win especially significant: hers was the first album in history that had won without ever having been available in record stores. The six wins and 18 Grammy nominations that ArtistShare albums have received are testament to the success of the model, which, given the current state of the music industry is more important than ever.

Since ArtistShare was founded several new technologies have further complicated the situation in which creative artists find themselves. Besides illegal sharing of digitized files, the music industry has changed so that artists often voluntarily use services that give them little to no monetary compensation. Companies like Youtube and Spotify and the role they play in promoting artists is the subject of intense debate right now. ArtistShare addressed the problems caused by these technologies before they even existed. Camelio, speaking of this current trend, said: "One school of thought was you need to make yourself available everywhere so people can find you; the other school of thought is you don't make yourself available and then when people hear about you they seek you out.... We would make it so that literally, if you wanted Jim Hall, you wanted Maria Schneider you had to go to their site or go to ArtistShare. The overexposure of artists, with Youtube and all this stuff, and I saw this coming and I don't think people fully realize what's happening, but if you make yourself available on all these other sites, they're never going to come to you." Besides not paying artists fairly for their work, Youtube and websites like it have been able to provide advertisers with "an ENORMOUS catalogue of music that they could help advertisers strengthen their brand with." It is because of developments like this that ArtistShare's model is more important than ever.

Not making yourself too available may seem like a risky proposition to many new artists who are looking to expand their following, but it is an important part of Camelio's vision of making sure that creative artists get fairly compensated for the work that they do. Often the hope when putting a lot of free content on the internet is that it will result in more website traffic and more new fans in general. To this request for more or new fans, Camelio asks, " what have you done lately for you current fans?" This question is an important one, and though it seems like a logical one to ask, it sheds light on what makes ArtistShare different as a record label. Speaking of the importance of keeping their fans connected and happy, Camelio says, " The real value for new artists is cultivating the fans you already have, to get them to talk to you about other people. That is the piece of wisdom that we try to impart to every artist. If you want to get more fans you need to pay attention to your current fans, even if there are only ten of them. Treat them like royalty. Show them why you deserve their attention."

On October 15 of this year, ArtistShare celebrated the 10th anniversary of the launch of their first project, Maria Schneider's Grammy award winning album. As they celebrate the occasion and all the success they have accumulated along the way, they have a lot to be excited about. ArtistShare has signed a partnership with Blue Note Records, marking the formation of their joint label Blue Note/ArtistShare. Their first project is an album by pianist and composer Fabian Almazan who is currently playing in Terence Blanchard's band. In addition to this, ArtistShare recently released volumes 2-4 of previously unreleased live material from Jim Hall, coming from the same Toronto concert as his Live! album from 1975. They are also looking forward to new releases from Maria Schneider and another Gil Evans centennial celebration album, which will be a live recording of the previously unrecorded music. It seems as if we have a lot to look forward to from ArtistShare in the coming years.

Jim Hall
Live! Vol. 2-4
2013

Legendary guitarist Jim Hall, who is rightly famous for his unique voice on the instrument and who was the preferred guitarist for such greats as Sonny Rollins and Art Farmer, has made many fans very happy with the release of this box set. Volume 1, released in 1975 and titled simply Live!, became legendary among enthusiasts of jazz guitar because of the phenomenal interplay between the trio, the intimacy of the venue and the remarkable improvisations.

The trio recorded here consists of Hall on guitar, Don Thompson on bass and Terry Clarke on drums. Throughout the three volumes that have been released as part of this project the trio pushes the boundaries of every song and playfully explores every musical avenue available to them. Hall is especially incredible on these recordings; his renderings of melodies are at once beautiful and completely surprising and engaging. His improvisations are thoughtful and deliberate while always keeping the listener completely absorbed and awaiting the next phrase.

The trio plays a mixture of standards from the great American songbook and originals and never repeats a song. His rendition of "Star Eyes" from the second disc quickly departs from the familiar and nearly overused Charlie Parker introduction into more exotic harmonic territory. Hall's harmonization of the melody is truly unique and from the very beginning of his solo he establishes a mood and builds energy and intensity for several choruses.

In the liner notes that come with this album, Hall is quoted as saying: "When I think about those performances, I start to smile right away. We just had so much Fun!" That fact is evident from the very first listen. In addition to the CD itself, the accompanying booklet contains statements from everyone in the trio as well as archival reviews of his playing and interviews with such greats as Pat Metheny and Chris Potter. This album is a treasure and is sure to please any fan of Jim Hall or of jazz guitar in general.

Yeahwon Shin
Yeahwon
2009

In her debut album, South Korean born vocalist Yeahwon Shin makes quite an impression; it gives a clear impression of her unique voice, which is heavily influenced by Brazilian music while still containing more contemporary elements. Now residing in Munich, Germany, at the time she was based in New York and the album features such phenomenal musicians as Ben Street, Jeff Ballard and Mark Turner.

Her interpretations and arrangements remain true to the often laid-back, sparse nature of much traditional bossa nova, to which she pays homage by playing songs by classic composers like Antonio Carlos Jobim and Dorival Caymmi, but her unique take on these songs reveal her love of more contemporary Brazilian music. Her deep appreciation and study of this music is obvious.

Her version of the classic "Rosa Morena," for example, takes hints from the arrangement performed by Joao Gilberto while the instrumentation and harmony lend a distinctly modern flavor to her rendition. At the same time, the driving percussion and guitar accompaniment is a throwback to the older recordings. It is a wonderful balance.

The one Korean composition on the record, "Sae Ya Sae Ya," is a traditional song and is the only song sung in Korean. It is a meditative ballad featuring saxophonist Mark Turner. His beautiful solo fits perfectly with the mood of the song and his blend as he doubles and harmonizes the melody is haunting. It is a highlight of the disc.

Yeahwon Shin's debut album is just the right mix of tradition with personal style and innovation. Her love of the music permeates the album and all her arrangements and makes it a pleasure to listen to.

Chris Potter
Ultrahang
2009

In their third release, Chris Potter's Underground explores a new batch of original compositions, with one inclusion of a pop classic, with their unique brand of hard edged, funk influenced groove music. Much in line with their previous releases, this record is an intriguing mix of heavily rhythmic compositions with a back beat as danceable as most rock songs contrasted against intimate, evocative ballads.

The Underground consists of Chris Potter on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet, Adam Rogers on guitar, Craig Taborn on Fender Rhodes and Nate Smith on drums. They are a cohesive unit capable of exploring a wide variety textures and timbres while never losing intensity or losing the audience's attention.

Rogers uses unique sounds to fit any musical situation in unexpected and truly satisfying ways; his unique musical sense is an important element of the group's musical identity. Having no electric bass, Taborn's left hand improvises incredible melodic and rhythmic ideas, and the unique timbre of the Rhodes is an integral component of the group's sound. Since Rogers more often than not takes on a melodic role, Taborn also has the essential function of being accompanist and providing harmonic support. Of course, without Nate Smith's inimitable drumming and musical sensibilities, the band wouldn't be what they are.

Rogers' composition "Rumples" is a good example of his unique style. It is very rhythmically complex, with few repeats which is characteristic of some contemporary classical music, which he has mentioned has been an influence on his writing. Though the melody is very complex, the solo section is based on a one chord vamp and allows Rogers and Potter a lot of freedom.

The arrangement of Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe," is one of the most memorable parts of the disc and differs significantly from "Rumples," which it follows. With beautiful solos from Taborn and Potter, the song is a perfect example of the group's ability to capture a wide range of sounds and to lend their talents to transform pop songs such as this into something of their own.

The album's variety of songs is representative of the diverse musical elements that each member of the band brings to the table, and like their sound, which is tight-knit despite their diversity, the album is consistently compelling from start to end.

Maria Schneider
Concert in the Garden
2004

Maria Schneider's first album for ArtistShare, and one that helped to put the label on the path to success by becoming the first Grammy winning album on the label as well as the first album in the history of the awards to win with only online sales, is one of a kind. The compositions are harmonically adventurous and bridge the gap between classical and jazz writing while providing a gorgeous backdrop for the incredible band and soloists. Each song on the album is permeated with rhythms that are infectious and fun, propelling the music forward.

The band, which has basically the same instrumentation as a traditional big band with some augmentations, is composed of a stellar cast of very talented musicians. The featured soloists include guitarist Ben Monder, pianist Frank Kimbrough, Gary Versace on accordion, Rich Perry on tenor saxophone, Ingrid Jensen on flügelhorn, Charles Pillow on soprano saxophone, trombonist Larry Farrell, Donny McCaslin on tenor saxophone and Greg Gisbert on flügelhorn.

The first composition, "Concert in the Garden," moves through many different textures and colors, showcasing Schneider's strength as a writer and giving plenty of room for the musicians to express their individual voices. Beginning with a rubato introduction where the rhythm section sets up the mood, the driving, danceable pulse comes into focus soon thereafter, adding vocalist Luciana Souza who blends beautifully with the accordion. Monder's solo is musically effective, technically impressive and a highlight of the song.

The second, third and fourth tracks, connected by the title "Three Romances," are separated into three parts, each containing their own subtitle. Though connected to each other, as to the rest of the album, by their Spanish/Latin American themes, each piece has a unique identity. "Three Romances part 1: Choro Dançado" is influenced by Brazilian choro, though as she herself admits, the harmonies she uses in her piece are far removed from many of the harmonies that would be expected to be found in a choro.

The final song, "Bulerià, Soleà y Rumba," is another highlight of the disc. It is based on Flamenco forms, which Schneider expresses a fondness for. It features a Grammy award-nominated solo by McCaslin which is astounding in its virtuosity and serves the song masterfully.

The incredible composing and arranging by Schneider as well as the adroit accompaniment and improvisations by the members of the band make this record stand out among contemporary large ensemble recordings.

Scott Colley
The Magic Line
2008

Well known and in demand as sideman, bassist Scott Colley brings his skill as a composer to the forefront with this release, which features saxophonist Chris Potter and drummer Bill Stewart. The trio, which makes full use of the sonic space afforded to it by the absence of a traditional accompanying instrument such as a piano or guitar, covers some very interesting and varied ground on this album.

The album begins starts off strong with the opener, "Take It And Like It." It begins with Potter and Colley playing a unison line, setting up the feel of this head-bob inducing track. Stewart's accompanying never gets in the way and he sets up phrases and accompanies the soloists with a intuitive sense of how to use texture and sound. He takes a solo very much in line with the rest of this very rhythmic track.

The title track is of a very different character than the opener that it follows. "The Magic Line" is all about textures and colors, beginning with some interesting cymbal work from Stewart which sets up an introductory solo by Colley. When Potter comes in with the melody, he is supported by Stewart's nimble use of brushes all over the kit and Colley's accompaniment, which more often than not consists of a doubling of the melody. Stewart switches to sticks when the melody ends, preparing for Colley's solo. The entire song is hauntingly beautiful, and in that it is hardly rhythmically driven at all, it is nearly the antithesis of the first song

There are several other highlights of the album. One of these is "Mayberry," which is the name of the fictional town from the Andy Griffith Show, the theme song of which the melody loosely references. It is playful and contains some fine interplay and communication between the members of the band. Another is "Dog Logic" which is one of the more rhythmically centered songs on the album. The solid pocket between Colley and Stewart propels Potter through his solo, into Colley's and the song finally culminates with trading between Potter and Stewart that leads back to the melody.

Overall the album is well balanced, moving between songs with intense metric propulsion and very artistic exploration of colors and textures. The interplay between the instrumentalists keeps things interesting, and the blend of styles gives the album a well rounded feel.

Bob Brookmeyer and The New Art Orchestra
Spirit Music
2006

Legendary trombonist Bob Brookmeyer played with some of the greatest musicians in jazz history. As well known as he is for this, he is equally as renowned for his skill as an arranger and composer, and this release is testament to both his skill in both of these capacities.

Brookmeyer says, "I have been told that aspects of the CD are somewhat 'melancholy,' which would be an accurate reflection of my mood." Mentioning that the period during which the writing of the music was a difficult one for him, the origin heavily emotional content of the music begins to become clearer. At the same time, he mentions, "I thought and roiled and discarded many obvious solutions: the "new age" approach, overtly "spiritual" music and the like..." He succeeds in doing this; the music is very much in the jazz tradition in its rhythmic focus but also contains elements of a more classical approach to composition.

The composition "New Love" stands out as being a good example of Brookmeyer's beautiful yet melancholic writing, with its unique use of dense harmony and the adept use of the instrumentation. It features tenor saxophonist Nils Van Haften. His improvisations on top of the skillfully crafted accompaniment sound as if they were written out. The song's moody progression and swells are very moving.

The percussive "Dance for Life," is engaging and energetic while still retaining the sort of contemplative mood that permeates the album. While the colorful use of the band is still very noticeable here, the groove is the anchor and foundation of this song, as the title suggests. It features trumpeter Ruud Breuls, whose tone sits beautifully on top of the rest of the band, which blends seamlessly into a whole.

"Silver Lining" swings hard and sounds like Brookmeyer is paying tribute to his roots. His solos are the highlights of this engaging piece. His thoughtful, melodic playing, heavily blues-inflected, fits perfectly within the framework of the complex rhythmic and harmonic writing that characterizes the song and provides a welcome contrast to the often tense harmony.

This album, one of the later offerings of the masterful composer, is an engaging and emotional confirmation of Brookmeyer's status as a legend in the jazz community. The loss of his unique voice in 2011 was a very sad moment in the history of jazz music, but his beautiful music lives on.

Brian Lynch and Eddie Palmieri
Simpático
2006

New York based Trumpeter Brian Lynch worked together with his long time mentor Puerto Rican pianist Eddie Palmieri to create this album, which won a Grammy in 2006 for best Latin jazz album. Though both players' presence is felt on every track, Lynch seems to be in the spotlight. He composed or helped compose the large majority of the songs. This ArtistShare project provides a series of videos documenting the collaboration between Lynch and Palmieri, which gives some insight into the composition process behind some of the songs on the album.

Apart from Lynch and Palmieri, the album features such fine musician as Phil Woods on alto saxophone, Conrad Herwig on trombone and drummer Dafnis Prieto among many others. The primarily Latin influenced arrangements are subtly but noticeably influenced by Lynch's straight-ahead oriented writing. This provides opportunities for guest artists such as Woods to shine in a setting that he would not normally be found in.

"Que Sería la Vida" showcases Mexican American vocalist Lila Downs, whose warm and sultry vocals are the defining element of the track's atmosphere. Being, along with "Tema Para Marissa," one of the slowest song on the album, it stands apart from the rest of the high energy, virtuosic playing on the album. The beautiful arrangement and accompaniment help Downs tell the story of the melody without ever failing to be sensitive to her interpretation.

"Jazz Impromptu," written by Lynch, is far more reminiscent of a hard bop tune than of anything in the Latin jazz genre, and Lynch's bebop roots come to the forefront. The subtle accompanying by the percussionists and the ending which moves away from the swing feel that dominates the rest of the tune reminds the listener that they are still listening to a Latin album. Likewise, Lynch's "Slippery" sounds very much the same way, providing an interesting eclecticism to the album.

The album is hard hitting and displays the immense musical talent of everyone involved. Lynch's prodigious skill as a composer and arranger is very evident, and the depth of Palmieri's involvement in the tradition of Latin music make every song dance like you were watching the band live in a club.

Patrick Williams
Aurora
2010

American composer Patrick Williams is best known for his numerous television and film compositions, including contributions to shows such as "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and, more recently, "Monk." This is his second album featuring his first love: big band music. His first release, titled Threshold, won a Grammy in 1974.

Williams conducted the student run jazz band during his time at Duke University and went on to write and arrange for jazz albums when he decided to pursue his career in Los Angeles. Having been asked by Frank Sinatra to arrange and conduct his two Duets albums, Williams' knowledge of big band tradition is obvious. At the same time, Williams' extensive experience as a composer for film and television plays heavily into his style, giving his writing a symphonic dimension.

This is readily apparent in "One More Dream," where the use French horns, fairly unusual in a traditional big band, accentuates the skillful arrangement that frames the melody of this beautiful ballad. Even so, when it comes time for alto saxophonist Tom Scott's phenomenal solo, the rhythm section swings like they're playing in a club around midnight rather than at the Capitol records studio where the album was recorded, and the backgrounds Williams writes are true to the style of the band he may have been arranging for when he was working for Sinatra.

Williams' unique writing style is very evident on "Fanfare for a New Day." As reminiscent of some of Thad Jones' writing as it is a film score, the introduction begins with some very colorful dissonances, and the use of symphonic percussion particularly evidences Williams' unique compositional approach. The soloists on this track, guest flautist Hubert Laws and Bob Sheppard on tenor saxophone, take the track to new heights.

Williams' second big band record marks another successful outing. The fiery playing by some of Los Angeles' top jazz musicians is reason enough to get this album, not to mention Williams' masterful and unique arranging and composing. This is an album any fan of big band music is sure to enjoy.

Danilo Perez
Danilo Perex Trio: Live at the Jazz Showcase
2005

Panamanian pianist Danilo Pérez has been playing music since childhood and his skill is unmatched. He is undoubtedly one of the finest pianists and composers of jazz music currently, evidenced by his position as Wayne Shorter's pianist.

This album, recorded in Chicago, captures his trio in exquisite form, capturing the intensity of their live energy. Along with the album itself, ArtistShare offers several other live recordings, and the overall theme to the project seems to be the unedited, unfiltered transmission of the pianist's musicality.

One of the tracks that comes with the ArtistShare project is a percussion jam, where Perez isn't even playing piano. Despite this, the raw energy and interaction between him and the other percussionists makes it a pleasure to listen to and paints a picture of the atmosphere of the moment. This is contrasted with some of the meditative piano playing Perez does on other tracks on the album and with the beautiful interplay the band engages in.

In the description for the project, Perez says the purpose of the album was to make a recording that bridges the gap between the spontaneity of live playing with composition; the trio accomplished this without a doubt.

Gil Evans/Ryan Truesdell
Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans
2012

There are few composers/arrangers in the history of jazz music more celebrated than Ian Ernest Gilmore Evans, better known as Gil Evans; his work on Miles Davis' Birth of the Cool helped define the emerging genre of "cool jazz." His subsequent collaborations with Davis (Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain) are legendary. Prior to this, he had established himself as an arranger working for Claude Thornhill and as an innovator by opening his apartment as a meeting place for those looking to develop new music that reached beyond the bebop style that was dominating jazz at the time.

Composer Ryan Truesdell, with the help of the Evans family, was researching Evans' archives for a project to bring to light some lesser known arrangements, when he came across over forty scores that had not yet been recorded. On May 13, 2012, the 100th anniversary of Evans' birthday, this album was released.

The album contains long colorful instrumental works alongside arrangements featuring vocalists. The opening track, "Punjab," is one of the former. It is heavily influenced by Indian music and contains some very impressive tabla playing by Dan Weiss underneath the melody and beautifully unique orchestration. "Smoking My Sad Cigarette" features vocalist Kate McGarry and a classic bluesy arrangement. The fact that this song follows "Punjab" gives an idea of the many influences on Evans' writing and of the wide variety of sounds found on the album.

The album covers a lot of musical ground, including compositions that are representative of Evans' influence by Spanish, Indian, blues, jazz and symphonic music. It is a wonderful way to celebrate the anniversary of his birth.

Live! Vol. 2-4

Watch

Tags

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles