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Fresh Sound Records

Phil DiPietro By

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They take the radio-friendly melodic material of others (as well as their own, which would make great additions to hip college-station playlists, for instance) forcefully radicalizing creativity, with a listener-friendly humorous bent. As they listen to consecutively diatonic and dissonant tone clusters set up against stylistic collisions, hipsters can take solace in "getting in early" on yet another relatively obscure unit with frighteningly obvious crossover potential.

You can watch this space for more links out to coming Fresh Sound reviews. In the meantime, let?s reveal the answer to the question that begins this spot. It comes in the form, really, of one man-the incredibly driven, resourceful and most importantly tasteful Jordi Pujol, president and chief-entrepreneur-in-charge of the FSNT appellation, and, as I came to find out, a double-fistful of other labels under the umbrella of Bluemoon. Check the vastness of their new website and consider this: Pujol has done much more than assemble a delectable, delicious, ever-increasing Tapas menu of uniformly tasty recordings. From his outpost in Barcelona, it cannot be denied, Pujol has fashioned not only a label, not only a deep catalogue, not only an all-star roster, but something more—achieved by a handful of labels before his — a readily identifiable aesthetic that weaves throughout the FSNT tapestry.


Meet Fresh Sounds Founder Jordi Pujol

AAJ: Where are you based? Barcelona, right?

JP: Yes.

AAJ: And how old are you?

JP: 49 years old.

AAJ: How long have you been in the music business? And in what capacity did you start?

JP: I?ve been in the record business since 1983. We started from zero. We had three partners at that time, but soon after that, we were reduced to two, Pedro Soley and I.

AAJ: Are you a musician yourself?

JP: No, not professionally, anyway. I played trumpet as an amateur from 1970 to 1980. Lee Morgan was my Idol.

AAJ: When did you start the Fresh Sound label?

JP: Fresh Sound was the first label we created, in the summer 1983. We started by reissuing West Coast Jazz LPs from the 50's from different labels owned by major companies such as RCA, Capitol, Pacific Jazz, Atlantic, etc. We did a lot of reissues. At that time, I was still working as a textile designer. I took my first trip to Los Angeles in 1984 (during my holiday season at work). On that trip, I began contacting several independent labels, based mostly in the Los Angeles area. So, as I went once a year, little by little I found more labels and LPs to add to the Fresh Sound catalog of reissues.

JP: During my first visit to Los Angeles, the first Fresh Sound LP was recorded at Britannia studios. It was during this first session that we recorded an LP by the Dave Pell Octet called Plays Again. When I met Pell in Los Angeles, I had already reissued several of his first LPs from the 50s. Before my trip, we talked on the phone several times and we became good friends. That's why we decided to record his octet again after 25 years. Dave Pell was a great, supportive and assisting person, and he put me in contact with other musicians. From then on, other recordings with West Coast artists were made over all those years. Some were recorded here in Barcelona and others in Los Angeles. We brought Bill Perkins, Claude Williamson, Frank Strazzeri, Don Menza, Charlie Mariano and Herb Geller to Barcelona. In LA, we recorded with Bob Cooper, Bill Perkins, Lou Levy, Bud Shank, Lennie Niehaus, Betty Bennett, Conte Candoli, Sue Raney, Lanny Morgan, etc.-all the great names from the West Coast jazz scene. In Los Angeles, Dick Bank has been very helpful during the last six years- he produced some great sessions. We have both a very similar taste in everything regarding the West Coast Jazz scene of today.

We have made about 50 recordings with established jazz names during these 18 years. Also, we recorded Tete Montoliu and three artists from the New York scene-JR. Monterose, Eddie Bert and recently the trio of the amazing pianist Harry Whitaker, who was Roberta Flack's musical director, a position he held for nine years. I remember he said, "I stopped because I started to sound like a jingle. I never like to play something the same way twice."

AAJ: How did it come to pass that a small boutique label in Spain is releasing recordings from downtown NYC musicians, such as Seamus Blake, Chris Cheek and Kurt Rosenwinkel as well as a Minneapolis, Minnesota bands like Reid Anderson's the Bad Plus?

JP: Since 1986, every time I traveled to Los Angeles (I spend two or three weeks there at a time) I also started to visit New York once a year. I listened to a lot of young musicians in some underground clubs but it was difficult for me to do anything at that time. I was concentrating too much on the reissues and the West Coast scene and musicians, so I preferred to wait.

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