Small Labels, Big Talent and Dedicated Producers

Nick Catalano By

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Mark Feldman is a practicing physician in Kingston N.Y. but several times a month he trots down to recording studios in Gotham to don his other hat- Jazz CD producer. For many years Dr. Feldman and his gifted wife Kayla have painstakingly chosen talent, hired engineers, analyzed master recordings marketed product and in many other capacities superintended the careers of countless important Jazz artists from everywhere in the world. The Feldmans epitomize a breed of unheralded folks- the small label producers. Without them the Jazz world would suffer immeasurably and listening audiences would be at the mercy of large corporate record companies-for 75 years the most corrupt and manipulative force in all of show business.

Reservoir Music, the Feldmans’ label operates on a break even or marginally profitable basis and both its artist repertoire and client list are eternally grateful. Recent releases include Helio Alves’s Portrait in Black and White and John Mayer’s The Classics. The former is a delightful romp through the catalog of the Sao Paulo native who has worked with most of Brazil’s Jazz immortals; the latter is poorly executed potpourri of standards which manages to garner some degree of listenability. For more info on Reservoir visit them at www.reservoirmusic.com .

Downstate, a few miles from the hamlet of Kingston, sits Planet Arts Recordings in the town of Catskill N.Y. This “recording initiative” was established to “foster creative expression in an independent environment.” The latest release from this little gem of a company is One Night in Vermont an effort by Ted Rosenthal- one of the most ubiquitous talents on the scene. The CD features Rosenthal alongside legendary trombonist Bob Brookmeyer in a melange of standards from Porter, Gershwin, Kern, Berlin et al. and it reflects thoughtful improvisational design and marvelous musicianship. The catalog is available at www.planetarts.org .

With studios in New York City and Oakland, California, Adventure Music is busy this month with a spectacular carnival of South American sounds that rivals any release package I’ve heard in an age for sheer quality and innovation. The Adventure effort contains four CD’s but I only have room for two brief synopses: Mike Marshall and Jovino Santos Neto combine on Serenata –The Music of Hermeto Pascoal (probably the most underrated composer on the planet). The soloists are terrific and Pascoal’s music floats along beautifully. Another Adventure release is “Noite Clara” from Ricardo Silveira who trades in his Paraguayan harp for a guitar and bass outing that is both charming and refreshing. Gilson Peranzzetta’s accordion is an important highlight. The rest of the titles can be found at www.adventure-music.com .

The smallest of small labels is, of course, the independent one that often sounds like the bevy of demo CD’s that reviewers become inundated with each month. But occasionally an independent CD can yield rewards and such is the case this month with Second Chances featuring vocalist Allison Paris. Again,the standards but with some lilting swing and vibrant interpretation. Allison can be reached at her website which is www.allisonparis.com .

Let’s hear it for the little guy!

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