Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

815

Hep to HatHut

Robert Spencer By

Sign in to view read count
It all started with Joe McPhee, and what better place to start? Werner X. Uehlinger, a Swiss music lover, heard Joe's music and was determined to make sure it was preserved and reached the widest possible audience. In 1975, he founded HatHut Records to put out McPhee's music. He did that, but we can also be eternally grateful that at some point early on he decided to bring us the work of other artists as well—artists of like mind and like soul, although their music would be as diverse as the mountains, the sea, and the air: music from Cecil Taylor, Steve Lacy, Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage, Anthony Braxton, Morton Feldman, Matthew Shipp, Jimmy Giuffre, David Liebman, Archie Shepp, Lou Harrison, Ellery Eskelin, and so many others—over 300 LP's and CD's in all since those palmy days spent producing Joe McPhee records.

Virtually from the beginning, even when he was quite strapped for cash, Uehlinger emphasized not only inner beauty (no matter how unanticipated or hard won) but outer beauty as well: HatHut LP's and CD's have always been brilliantly packaged, with abundant treats for the eyes as well as the ears—not to mention liner notes of provocative acuity and grace from some of the most ingenious individuals writing in this field. I never had the privilege of owning any of the LP's, but I had the wonderful opportunity of exploring the HatHut collection of a musician friend some time ago; after savoring the sumptuousness of those boxed sets that he has treasured for years, I can only hope that his friends know nothing of the existence of those discs and that his apartment has a secure burglar alarm system.

Anyway, you can tell from the name-drops of Stockhausen, Cage, Feldman others above that although HatHut's roots are with McPhee in post-Coltrane, post-Ayler, post-Ornette jazz, the label has by no means restricted itself to this field. Perhaps such a development was a logical result of involvement with masters like Anthony Braxton, whose sensibilities were always divided between, or perhaps more precisely a unification of, the disparate ethos of, say, Louis Armstrong, Coltrane, and (quite explicitly) Stockhausen himself. To do justice to Braxton's music, as Uehlinger has superbly in both the "jazz" and "classical" arenas, one has to have not only a foot in both camps, but a profound awareness and understanding of, not to mention a love for, the often unexpected and sometimes even forbidding music that may result. HatHut has never been afraid of concrete music or noise effects, having imbibed thoroughly Cage's philosophy that music can be found anywhere by anyone willing and able to open his ears and listen ; but what may ultimately be most delightful about the now-magnificently sprawling Hat oeuvre is the utterly winning quality of it all, the astounding and stringent quality of even the most experimental releases, that could never possibly be mistaken for mere gimmickry or fakery. And those experiments, of course, coexist in the Hat catalogue with numerous other endeavors that, whatever else they may be, are always in their own way and with their own character quite abundantly glorious.

The musicians knew this before anyone else. Otherwise why would they have trekked to the Alpine wilds of Switzerland to make recordings, when so many other opportunities were available to them closer to hand? Clearly they knew that Werner X. Uehlinger was offering them an opportunity to capture their sound more perfectly, with more crystalline fidelity, than virtually anyone else—and arguably, many if not most of the musicians in the HatHut catalogue have never been better recorded, no matter how long, varied, and abundantly recorded their careers have been. The Hat releases of every one of them—particularly Braxton, Lacy, and McPhee himself—stand among the finest releases in their catalogues, so that if you were to assemble a list of the essential recordings of each, it simply wouldn't be accurate or complete without the Hats.

So that even if HatHut Records never reach a large audience, each one is a jewel unto itself. Uehlinger explains that this has all been part of the plan: "I cannot compete with the big companies, going in the same directions, trying to compete for a mass audience. My intention is to work within the field of the minorities, of the marginal. I think there are, worldwide, enough people who enjoy such marginal music or arts, to support them. I think it's important also, for me, to take big risks, and learn from my errors, in order to go on to the next step. It's important to listen to the musicians and composers. I feel that HatHut is run like an art gallery, where a musician or composer has from time to time the chance to display his current level of musical development...or even a past level he was never able to present."

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

In Pictures
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
From Outer Space

From Outer Space

Roaratorio Records
2018

buy
Imaginary Numbers

Imaginary Numbers

Clean Feed Records
2018

buy
Flowers

Flowers

Cipsela Records
2016

buy
Ticonderoga

Ticonderoga

Clean Feed Records
2015

buy
Solos : The Lost Tapes (1980 – 1981 – 1984)

Solos : The Lost...

Roaratorio Records
2015

buy
Date Detail Price
Dec15Sat
20:00
Interhere: Sarah Weaver Ensemble
DiMenna Center
New York, NY
$25

Related Articles

Read Hubro: Making Room for Marginalized Music Record Label Profiles
Hubro: Making Room for Marginalized Music
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: August 27, 2018
Read Origin Records: Creating Opportunities and Community Record Label Profiles
Origin Records: Creating Opportunities and Community
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: July 30, 2018
Read WEWANTSOUNDS: A Forgotten Don Cherry and Other Gems Record Label Profiles
WEWANTSOUNDS: A Forgotten Don Cherry and Other Gems
by Enrico Bettinello
Published: July 18, 2018
Read ears&eyes Records: From Chicago to the World Record Label Profiles
ears&eyes Records: From Chicago to the World
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Inner Circle Music: Creativity and Community Spirit Record Label Profiles
Inner Circle Music: Creativity and Community Spirit
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: February 17, 2016
Read HOOB Records: Ten Years Young Record Label Profiles
HOOB Records: Ten Years Young
by James Pearse
Published: December 22, 2015
Read "Hubro: Making Room for Marginalized Music" Record Label Profiles Hubro: Making Room for Marginalized Music
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: August 27, 2018
Read "Origin Records: Creating Opportunities and Community" Record Label Profiles Origin Records: Creating Opportunities and Community
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: July 30, 2018
Read "WEWANTSOUNDS: A Forgotten Don Cherry and Other Gems" Record Label Profiles WEWANTSOUNDS: A Forgotten Don Cherry and Other Gems
by Enrico Bettinello
Published: July 18, 2018
Read "Nicky Schrire: Permission to Be Yourself" Interviews Nicky Schrire: Permission to Be Yourself
by Seton Hawkins
Published: July 9, 2018
Read "Devin Gray, Jakob Bro Trio and More" Radio Devin Gray, Jakob Bro Trio and More
by Maurice Hogue
Published: October 31, 2018
Read "Bill Laswell/Milford Graves/John Zorn at The Stone" Live Reviews Bill Laswell/Milford Graves/John Zorn at The Stone
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 22, 2017
Read "Classic vinyl remasterings from Storyville" Multiple Reviews Classic vinyl remasterings from Storyville
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 5, 2018
Read "Leonardo Pavkovic: Nothing is Ordinary" Interviews Leonardo Pavkovic: Nothing is Ordinary
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 16, 2018
Read "Bailey’s Bundle – Seven Women (Plus Three) 2018 – Part IX" Bailey's Bundles Bailey’s Bundle – Seven Women (Plus Three) 2018...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 5, 2018