In very discreet settings, admittedly in some of my surlier moments, I’ve been known to say: “Just because you can make a record doesn’t mean you should.” This in no way means I would ever deign to hamper the creative output of any artist. It’s just that the digital age has thickened the herd, so to speak. This has had the inevitable outcome of a proliferation of mediocrity. There’s no kind way to put it.
This is also why I am grateful for independent labels. They are the last vestige of benevolent gate keeping. One such label is High Note records. They provide the artist with quality studios and engineers. They also handle distribution and promotion which allows their talent to focus on creation. Of course these things can all be accomplished by committed individuals and there are many, Just not everybody. In that spirit, here are two new offerings from the High Note/Savant group.
Harvie S. Trio: “Going For It.”* This is an example of a principal sideman, in this case guitar great Mike Stern, with a strong potential to outshine the leader, Harvie ‘S” (nee Schwartz). He is a decent bassist. Whatever the egos involved, the results are what matter. This is a great jam! It’s all standards, with one exception: “Bruze.” It’s an original by Mike Stern. I hesitantly add that this made me hanker for a new release from Stern.
*Important to point out recording is not technically new. It’s from a gig in Cambridge @1980’s.
And in the slightly-edgy-but-no-big-curveballs department, we have yet another release from tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen. He has an established record of blending post-bop with more dissonant modal expressions. So “Queen City” falls neither short nor exceeds expectations for fans of Allen or his brand of original music. But there’s a caveat that may keep this from going purely gold. It’s all saxophone. No accompaniment. So it’s purely his vision. Labels that encourage such pursuits are increasingly rare, as are radio stations.
Link to High Note Records: www.jazzdepot.com
Kevin T. O’Connor
88.5 KBEM-FM | Jazz88.FM
Minneapolis Public Schools
1555 James Ave N, Mpls MN 55411