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MoonJune Records: A Decade of Progressive Rock Documentation

Mark Redlefsen By

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On a moon of this past June, appropriately enough, Leonardo Pavkovic, owner of the progressive jazz label MoonJune Records, gave All About Jazz an interview at the label's office in Union Square, New York City. The name MoonJune Records, which Pavkovic started back in 2001, is taken from the title of a song, "Moon In June," that appeared on the Canterbury jazz-rock group, Soft Machine's 1970 album, Third (CBS). MoonJune Records aims to provide jazz and progressive rock musicians from different continents and different cultural backgrounds with a very personal, hands-on relationship with a label.

At the time of the interview, MoonJune Records had just hit its 10-year mark. Pavkovic was optimistic about the label's future, and provided details on how he works with musicians and remains responsive to his customers.

The MoonJune office is a working shrine to some of the best jazz and progressive rock artists, past to present—from Pavkovic's own CDs waiting to be mailed out, to extensive video and book libraries and stacks of trade publications and music magazines. One wall is covered with posters and stickers going back to the late 1960s and English bands such as Colosseum, and up to the recent past with Indonesian groups such as Tohpati Ethnomission.

There is no shortage of interest for a visitor to feast eyes on in this office—and from the way Pavkovic jubilantly blasts music out of his sound system, it is obvious he is a man who loves what he does.

Interview with Leonardo Pavkovic

All About Jazz: Please tell us about your background.

Leonardo Pavkovic: I was born in former Yugoslavia (in the region of Bosnia) of a very mixed ethnic background, mostly Montenegrin and Croatian. I grew up in southern Italy and finished college there in Bari, graduating with specializations in Portuguese Language & Literature & Brazilian Literature. I moved to New York City in 1990 and have lived here ever since. Before working in the music business, I was a partner in the New York graphic design and marketing company Studio T, which had a lot of customers in the music business. Even though my life was already pretty interesting before 1990, I totally found myself when I moved to the greatest metropolis in the world, New York. Living in this magic big city is a better education than you'll find in any college anywhere, at least for me.

AAJ: What about the music that has inspired you?

LP: Simply said, I like the music that I like. I do not value a classic jazz album that I like over a classic rock album that I like. Any good music that I discover stays with me. Growing up, punk was happening all around me but never attracted me; I was more interested in Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, The Doors and Led Zeppelin, my core bands at the time. Then when new wave and glam metal were happening, they also didn't attract me at all. Around this time I started learning more about progressive rock bands like Pink Floyd, Yes and Genesis, as well as American blues legends such as Muddy Waters or John Lee Hooker and English blues guys like John Mayall.

There were no videos back then, but three significant concert films that shaped my musical outlook were Woodstock (1970), The Isle of Wight (1970) concerts, and Pink Floyd's Live at Pompeii (1972). As a teenager and during my early twenties, I gravitated toward people who were older than me, usually longhairs, assuming, very often rightly, that they knew the most about the blues, classic rock and jazz of the 1960s and 1970s. During the 1980s, my musical tastes evolved much further, but not because of the actual popular music of that time. I proudly turned my back on the music of the 1980s, a decade I spent discovering the much more vital and intelligent music of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

Throughout my life I have totally ignored all forms of mainstream music, whether it be Bon Jovi, Blondie, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Motley Crue, Phil Collins or anything similarly commercial. It was all just tasteless commercial cheese to me, and I was far more interested in bands that used Mellotron or flute or violin.

AAJ: Tell us more about your journey into jazz.

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