Yes, a completely evolutionary process. It's artist-oriented, and mostly centered around musicians that I've known and worked with for over twenty years. There is a lot of trust involved between the musicians and me as the producer, and I think this is what gives the label the "family" kind of feel that it has. I don't know if it's possible to expand the artistic direction beyond where it is, because it's expanded pretty far out there! We have straight-ahead jazz with Darek Oles and Brad Mehldau, the Downtown Scene with Dresser and Friedlander, scronk-rock, influenced jazz with Nels Cline and Steuart Liebig, creative wall of sound music from G.E. Stinson, Alex Cline's ECM modern classical influenced sound, Scott Amendola's Jam Band tinged music... I don't think there are many contemporary jazz expressions that we're not representing, except for maybe Smooth Jazz... and there's a reason for that.
AAJ: How do you approach the musicians/leaders for a given project? Or do they possess total artistic control, for example?
JG: Approaching the artists is a combination of me soliciting new artists that I'm interested in working with, and existing artists telling me when they are ready to do their next project. I figure that my job is to make the musician's dream come true. Sometimes this means just ordering the food for the session and being that extra pair of ears that is always needed. Other times the artist wants more involvement from me and it becomes more of a collaborative project.
AAJ: Where would you like to see yourself in five years?
JG: Ideally, playing music and producing more, and spending less time doing the actual work of running a label. Of course a lot depends on which way the industry goes. If music becomes a commodity without value, freely traded and discarded when no longer needed, then Cryptogramophone will be out of business. If people recognize the value of having record labels that can nurture and support musicians, and people continue to collect interesting music that is beautifully documented, then we will keep doing what we're doing.
AAJ: Upcoming releases?
JG: August 2004 - Like A Dream by Darek Oles, with Brad Mehldau and Bennie Maupin. "The Giant Pin" by The Nels Cline Singers. March 2005 - Time Changes by Mark Dresser & Denman Maroney, with Michael Sarin and Alexandra Montano, Cloud Plate by Miya Masaoka, Kaoru, G.E. Stinson and Alex Cline
AAJ: What type of studio environment do you use? How do you get "that" crystalline sound, where all the instruments shine forth with equal importance and clarity. With that, do you plan on producing SACD and Hybrid Multi-Channel CDs?
JG: All credit here must go to our engineer Rich Breen. Rich is the most skilled engineer that I've ever worked with, and he's also a fine musician. We try to find studios that give us the option of having the drums in a large, warm room, and complete isolation for the other instruments with good sightlines. These days we record direct to Pro Tools HD, and Rich is an expert at knowing which mics to use in which situations, and where to place the mics for the sounds we want. There are also some special things that take place in the mixing and mastering process that make our recordings sound the way they do.
I've explored SACD and 5.1, and can't justify the expense because of the size of the audience. I think that both technologies sound great, but our CDs sound pretty darn good using the technology that most people already have. The odd thing is that people seem more interested in compressed music using old technology (mp3s) rather than moving into these new territories. Until our audience goes there, we'll just sit on the sidelines for now. We are however represented on all the major digital downloading sites including iTunes, eMusic, Sony, Microsoft, etc. and we have our own digital store.
Visit Cryptogramophone on the web.