Origin Records: Creating Opportunities and Community

Jakob Baekgaard By

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AAJ: What are your ambitions for the future? Are you optimistic when it comes to the future of jazz?

JB: I never have any doubts about the music and its health, there's always a steady flow of creative people creating. I'm not very hopeful though about the business of music, but then again, this has never been an easy racket! So we'll just forge on and see where it takes us. I think as long as the focus is providing outlets and building community for people who love the music, SOMETHING worthwhile will come of it, and that'll have to be good enough for us.

MJ: With all the changes in the music industry in the past decade there are still incredible jazz artists who are creating music that needs to be heard. We always find a way to make it work so I'm confident we will continue to do that in the future. Jazz has always been a small niche market. But as life becomes more and more hectic and digital-based, I try to remind people of the importance of art both recorded and live. If you are a jazz fan it is important to support those who are creating the music. This isn't just about Origin, this is about the entire community. Go out and hear live music and support your local jazz venue. Support the artists you like by buying a CD at the gig. It is up to all of us to make sure the scene survives.

AAJ: Finally, could you tell about your release schedule and some of the future releases on your labels?

JB: Coming up for fall/winter 2018 is a new project by vibraphonist Joe Locke; trumpeter Thomas Marriott has a ballads album featuring Locke and Ryan Cohan; Hal Galper's 1973 band with the Brecker Brothers, Bob Moses and Wayne Dockery, Live in Berlin, is an exciting find; trumpeter Brad Goode; bassist David Friesen's New Zealand trio; Belgian bassist Piet Verbist's Quartet; guitarists Mimi Fox and Tom Rizzo; and a whole bunch more! We release about 35 titles a year and many of them come in out-of-the-blue, so we never really know what the next year is going to look like. We've always preferred to improvise.

Matt's list of personally significant Origin Records:

Various Artists
Modern Jazz: A Selection of Seattle's Finest Jazz
Origin Records

I can't remember why we did it, but this album was our first compilation CD to commemorate the first few years of the label. For me this one is special because we were trying to figure out what to use for the album cover and I remembered a photo in my family's photo album that my father took during the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle and that is the photo that appears on the cover.

Matt Jorgensen
Tattooed by Passion: Music Inspired by the paintings of Dale Chisman
Origin Records

This one is my most personal of all the albums I've done as a leader. It is the first album I've done that featured entirely original music and was inspired by the paintings of my father-in-law Dale Chisman who had passed away the previous year. Many of the tunes continue to pop up on NPR's Morning Edition, including one of my proudest moments when the track "Colorado" was used at the end of NPR's story about President Barack Obama's Farewell Address.

Matt Jorgensen + 451
Origin Records

This was the third album that I recorded under my own name and the first that I did once I moved back to Seattle. For this band it was one of those defining records where our fans really responded to it. Plus everyone loves the cover... I took a photo of my friend's dog while on tour in San Francisco. I can take credit for the photo, but not the dog.

Upper Left Trio
Sell Your Soul Side
Origin Records

I love this record. My group and Upper Left Trio did a bunch of double-bill gigs around the time that Sell Your Soul Side and my CD Hope were released. I also shot and directed a video about the release of the album, the first one I did for the label. (view here). Great trio and great songwriting and I even got to sub for Charlie Doggett once.

Joe Locke/Geoffrey Keezer Group
Live in Seatle
Origin Records

This was taken from a live recording at the 2005 Ballard Jazz Festival. This is one where it felt like all of the things John and I had been building towards came together. Amazing concert, amazing band, amazing audience ... just a great night and one that we captured on a recording. An interesting story about the recording, the first tune on the CD was also the first tune of the concert. About four bars into it the band made a mistake and Joe Locke stopped the band, explained to the audience they were doing a live recording and restarted. When the band started back up they were on fire and the rest of the night, well, as they say, it was history!

Hadley Caliman
Origin Records

This was Hadley's first album for Origin and his first as a leader in over two decades when it was recorded. Thomas Marriott produced it and put together a great band featuring Joe Locke, Phil Sparks and Joe La Barbera. Hadley would go on to record two more for Origin, Straight Ahead, which included me as part of his working quintet, and Reunion with fellow saxophonist Pete Christlieb.

Human Spirit
Dialogue: Live at the Earshot Jazz Festival
Origin Records

My two closest musical collaborators are trumpeter Thomas Marriott and saxophonist Mark Taylor. We have each played on each other's albums and we decided to do an album together as the project Human Spirit. This album captures a weekend at Tula's Jazz Club in Seattle where we were joined by pianist Orrin Evans and bassist Essiet Essiet. It features a couple of my tunes, including the track "Ridgecrest." I can't remember which night the version of the record is, but I do remember that I dropped my drumsticks during the drum solo each night ... so you hear that on the record!

Ray Vega & Thomas Marriott
East-West Trumpet Summit
Origin Records

Thomas Marriott and Ray Vega are longtime friends so it was great to be able to release this project with the two of them together. This was also the first album for Origin that reached the number 1 spot on the JazzWeek Chart.

Jeff Baker
OA2 Records

Jeff Baker is one of my favorite male vocalists and his latest release Phrases is an amazing record. I had talked to him about the project beforehand but when I first heard the finished product I was working at the computer late at night and so inspired I sent him off a couple of text messages congratulating him ... not realizing that it was 2am at the time!

Corey Christiansen
Factory Girl
Origin Records

We are fortunate to have a number of artists who have done a number of albums for us. Guitarist Corey Christiansen is one of those who I met on a gig and we've been playing together ever since. He has five recordings as a leader for Origin and has appeared on others as a side-musician, but the vinyl version of Factory Girl is the one I love to play on my home stereo. It sounds really good when played loud!

Chamber 3
OA2 Records

Chamber 3 is a group that I co-lead with German guitarist Christian Eckert. We met at the New School 26 years ago and one of my first gigs in New York City was with a group led by Christian. Our new CD, Transatlantic, is our second release for OA2 Records. I feel fortunate to have a number of these musical relationships that have now spanned decades and have a vehicle to release the music to the public.

John's significant Origin Records:

Hal Galper featuring Jerry Bergonzi
Origin Records

One of my great friends and a regular band mate, bassist Jeff Johnson, had been performing with Hal Galper's trio for a decade when Hal took a break in the late '90s for 8 years to, well, just take a break. He was working on a new approach to playing during that time, had heard some things Jeff and I were doing, and decided to fly out to Seattle from NYC to play with us and see if it'd work. We played in my living room for a couple hours, and then went into the studio the next day where we recorded Furious Rubato, the first of 7 albums over 12 years where we pursued performing "without intention" in a rubato style. Cubist has turned out to be the final album in that series as Hal, at 80, has decided to back off of regular touring. It was a period of incredible musical experiences for me personally and opportunities for the label through many connections made.

Jessica Williams
The Art of the Piano
Origin Records

I had long viewed Jessica Williams as being one of the heavier musical voices on the planet, when she wandered into a gig I was playing in Tacoma in the mid '90s. She had just moved to the Northwest and was checking things out. She went on stage during a break and just quietly played a solo piano piece. Within minutes, the packed, noisy room quieted and she ended up performing 20 minutes to complete silence. When she came to me about putting out a record, we jumped on it and we're so pleased to be a big part of her musical output during this period of her career. The Art of the Piano is one of seven recordings by her we've released.

Bobby Broom
Upper Westside Story
Origin Records

The 4th of five recordings from Chicago guitarist Bobby Broom features all original music and his working trio at their apex, having performed weekly for 7+ years. It was a commercial and critical success, and a nice personal look at someone better known for their interpretation of standards and pop classics, and as Sonny Rollins' longtime guitarist.

Don Lanphere with New Stories
Home at Last
Origin Records

Moving at 20 to NYC in 1948, and immediately recording and playing with Fats Navarro, Charlie Parker, etc... Don's return and influence on the Seattle jazz scene was incalculable. Here, his longtime working band took him into the studio for his birthday to do a blowing session -53 years after his first Prestige recording with Navarro, Roach, Potter & Haig.

Thomas Marriott
Constraints & Liberations
Origin Records

Thomas has been an active participant in Origin activities since his early twenties, having now performed on 30 albums and appearances in countless festival and concert events. His albums as a leader are integral to the "Origin sound," none, to me, more than his 6th, Contraints & Liberations. Performing all originals in a wide-open setting, with master improvisors Gary Versace, Hans Teuber, Jeff Johnson and John Bishop, Marriott created one of our more intriguing recordings.

Chris Walden Big Band
Origin Records

Introduced to us by fellow L.A.-based saxophonist/composer/arranger Kim Richmond, Chris Walden is a major figure in the studios as a composer/arranger for TV, film, and dozens of major artists. His acclaimed big band releases opened up new audiences for us, and provided an introduction to numerous other LA-based composers and performers. In addition, his Grammy-nominated 2008 orchestral debut, Chris Walden: Symphony No. 1 -The Four Elements, was the impetus for our introduction of the Origin Classical label.

Sam Yahel Trio
Truth and Beauty
Origin Records

One of the New York Times' Top Ten of 2007 -Sam Yahel, Joshua Redman and Brian Blade had been working a lot together for several years, coming up with several recordings under different names. Truth and Beauty was Yahel's magnificent offering to their series.

Danny Green Trio and Strings
One Day It Will
OA2 Records

The San Diego pianist/composer Danny Green has done 3 recordings with us, each one a major development in a very promising career. One Day it Will follows four years of steady performances, touring and recording with his nimble trio, and it shows.

Chad McCullough & Bram Weijters
Abstract Quantities
Origin Records

Chad McCullough came to work with us straight out of college and was integral in helping formulate many of our day-to-day processes, all the while pursuing his professional career as a trumpeter/composer/educator. Now based in Chicago, his continued support of our work and his ongoing advocacy for music and musicians is vital to many. This Belgian/American quartet with pianist Bram Weijters has opened doors to all sorts of exchanges, touring, recording and general hanging over the past 10 years. Abstract Quantities is a beautiful example of Chad's musical pursuits.

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