I have a European colleague who writes about jazz and possesses a knowledge of labels and their history that is astounding. When we talk about past artists and their various contributions during different periods of their lives, I'm always surprised how often these discussions include considerable time spent on the labels involved. It is amazing how much a knowledge of "label history" can add to the understanding of an artist's oeuvre.
Because there are so many small labels at this writing I thought I would review a few of them whose identity is virtually unknown to the general listener.
From the U.K. comes Edition Records first launched in 2008. Edition showcases British artists (a review of Dave Stapleton appeared in this column a few months back) with cutting edge credentials at European festivals and venues. Presently, the label is set to release work from the Geoff Eales trio, Dave Kane's Rabbit Project, the Mark Lockheart Group and Troyka. Some of these musicians have scored well in festivals at Cannes, Budapest, Cork and Cheltenham. Listening to these interesting artists and musics is a constant reminder of the movement of jazz as a world art form and Edition Records is a valuable chronicler of this phenomenon.
Susie Meissner, from the Philadelphia club and cabaret circuit, is set to release her new outing I'll Remember April on the LydianJazz label. The CD is a retrospective of standards interpreted with an operetta-like flair. Pianist Lenore Raphael displays her wares in a concert recording dubbed Live at Steinway Hall on the Swingin' Fox Music label. Ms. Raphael embraces the standard repertoire with a sagacious eye that has espied geniuses as disparate as Charlie Parker and Johnny Mercer. Chanteuse Meryl Romer ushers forth a captivating 1920's Mae West persona as she delivers the standards with memorable individualism. The session, So Sure from LadyPearl Music, features some swinging sidemen including reedman Robert Kyle and keyboardist/conductor Erik Deutsch.
The Crimson Jazz Trio, westcoasters who are rarely heard in my part of the world are releasing the King Crimson Songbook vol. 2 on the Inner Knot label. The outing was the last on this earth for drummer Ian Wallace and it scintillates. The trio is joined by tenorist Mel Collins in original compositions which reflect a cohesion that would certainly be welcome here in Gotham. Go East young men!