Rolph Nemo, producer and owner of upstart Olympic Bastid Records, makes no apologies for offering what other labels would turn down in a heartbeat. "Some think these recordings should be burned," says Rolph, "they weren't meant to be. The truth is, just as Armstrong, Parker and Ornette had moments of sublime insight, so did they also fall flat on their keisters. That's why we (Olympic Bastid Records) are here. The public can more easily appreciate artists' contributions after hearing just how human they really were."
Critics site Rolph with pandering to the public, for bringing a Jerry Springer-like quality to jazz history. Rolph dismisses such claims as nothing more than misplaced ethics. Does it ever keep the producer up at night? "I think everyone wants recognition for what they do, but we really don't need respect, not really. Giving people another look at their idols, now that's what's important."
"Whitewashing worked in Eisenhower's era but that's a long time ago. It's a new millennium and we've long since learned how spotless role models never existed. Honestly, I think Sony and EMI would have jumped at the chance to publish this material if they didn't have outdated reputations to think of."
But what of the seemingly impossible pairings? Featured musicians were often philosophically opposed to one another and simple chronology raises an eyebrow or two. The phone rings, Rolph gives a wink and the interview is over.
AllAboutJazz.com in collaboration with Olympic Bastid Records is pleased to offer two exclusive MP3 excerpts from Archie Shepp Meets Al Jolson
and Kenny-G Meets Mingus
. Click on the MP3 links to download each excerpt. Official release dates are not available at this time. Listen Kenny-G Meets Mingus Archie Shepp Meets Al Jolson