538

MoonJune Records

Martin Longley By

Sign in to view read count
Everything started with Elton Dean. If I hadn't connected with him, maybe I wouldn't be doing this now.
Leonardo Pavkovic is a looming presence on the ever-expanding scene of polynational, polymusical globe-gobbling. Some might deem his MoonJune Records operation a special home for European prog rock, but this is only one aspect of its makeup. "MoonJune is a label for progressive music," he announces, holding court, at an Egyptian kebab cafe in Astoria. "Whatever that progression means. It can be rock, jazz, global or avant-garde or any kind of music. I'm a huge fan of progressive rock, but also of blues and jazz."

The divisions between such categories are even harder to discern once they've been propelled through the mincer of general progressiveness. There's an ongoing, bouncing feedback between rock 'n' roll, freeform jazz, modern classical and hardcore ethnic sounds, creating a post '60s fusion whose followers can easily recognize but rarely agree to define.

Pavkovic's varied background begins with his birth in the Bosnian region of former Yugoslavia, with frequent visits to Italy leading to his full residence in its southern parts from 1983. Studying at the University Of baritone, Pavkovic's grasp of five languages was eventually going to be a massive help in his international tour-booking strategies.

"I started by pure accident, in the late '80s. I helped out a couple of my friends, [trumpeter] Pino Minafra and [saxophonist] Vittorino Curci. I was taking Europa Jazz Festival artists from the airport to the hotel." This was Pavkovic's first glimpse of the backstage mechanics of the music business. In 1990, he moved to New York, working as a dishwasher and then joining the team at Studio T, which was created by the photographer and graphic artist Fernando Natalici in the mid '70s. Here, Pavkovic also met publicist Jim Eigo, who was one of the studio's main clients for music graphics. The three of them soon formed the short-lived Jazz Magnet Records and by the time of its collapse, they'd released nine albums.

"In 2000, I met [Soft Machine saxophonist] Elton Dean," says Pavkovic, reminiscing over his sizzling dish of lamb cheek. "MoonJune had started as a website, a tribute to Soft Machine. I thought, this is a great name for a label. Everything started as a coincidence in 2001. Everything started with Elton Dean. If I hadn't connected with him, maybe I wouldn't be doing this now." The label's name derives from the "Moon In June" song, from Soft Machine's 1970 Third album. It was the Soft Works reunion combo in 2002 that garnered a distribution deal with Japanese music producer Masa Matsuzaki. "In one single shot, all doors to the Japanese music industry opened to me through this one contact." So, Pavkovic assembled the starry touring and recording lineup of Soft Works, featuring Dean, guitarist Allan Holdsworth, bassist Hugh Hopper and drummer John Marshall. Even at this stage, he was still improvising. "Certain things I did by intuition, others by asking people what to do."

Pavkovic will soon have 30 records in his catalogue, including titles by Soft Machine Legacy, Italian prog rockers DFA and The Wrong Object, a quintet of jazz-rock individualists from Belgium, who have identifiable Frank Zappa influences, but translated into a fresh language. There are also albums by the Delta Saxophone Quartet, Phil Miller's In Cahoots and the Alex Maguire Sextet. The tour-booking side of MoonJune represents Allan Holdsworth, Soft Machine Legacy, DFA, Chad Wackerman, among many other acts.

Pavkovic's latest batch of issues perfectly illustrate the label's high quality and its marked diversity. A hitherto sparsely documented lineup of Soft Machine features on Drop, recorded live during their 1971 tour of Germany. Keyboardist Mike Ratledge is heard in his most granite-crumbling state, alongside the writhing saxophone solos of Dean, these two joined by Hopper and drummer Phil Howard, whose tenure lasted for a mere five months, between founding member Robert Wyatt and longtime participant John Marshall. It's a Soft's version that's pared down to a particularly powerful, confrontational core.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

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 Kuai Music: Moving Jazz Forward Collectively Record Label Profiles Kuai Music: Moving Jazz Forward Collectively
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: July 10, 2015
Read Real World Records: Passion and Authenticity are Fundamental Record Label Profiles Real World Records: Passion and Authenticity are Fundamental
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 8, 2015
Read 7Dreams: The Story of a Country, a Friendship and a Sound Record Label Profiles 7Dreams: The Story of a Country, a Friendship and a Sound
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 28, 2015
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 "Trumpet From On High" Genius Guide to Jazz Trumpet From On High
by Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius
Published: May 4, 2017
Read "Thelonious Monk: Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960" Extended Analysis Thelonious Monk: Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 9, 2017
Read "Paul Chambers: Paul Chambers Quintet - 1957" My Blue Note Obsession Paul Chambers: Paul Chambers Quintet - 1957
by Marc Davis
Published: March 3, 2017
Read "Mike Zito at the Iridium" Live Reviews Mike Zito at the Iridium
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "I Called Him Morgan by Kasper Collin" DVD/Film Reviews I Called Him Morgan by Kasper Collin
by Christine Connallon
Published: March 24, 2017
Read "Nick Davies Best Releases of 2016" Best of / Year End Nick Davies Best Releases of 2016
by Nick Davies
Published: December 24, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.