Saturday, October 24, 2009

The label to find (some of) the best bands to come?

I look back at the catalogue of Babel fairly regularly - if only because there are quite a few boxes of CDs in my storage spaces and in my shop by the Vortex.
Two things come out from some of these recent musings:
One is the quality of so much music that has come out of the UK jazz scene over the past 15 years. Much of this period has been a bit of a lull economically for jazz. Yet even many of the earlier albums hold up as well as any of the later ones, which have been more successful. For example, the three Babel albums by Julian Arguelles, those by Huw Warren and those by Christine Tobin. Some of my favourite little solos are on these albums. For example, Huw's solo on The Priest on Christine Tobin's Aililiu, or Iain Ballamy's 16 bars of perfection in "Everybody's Talking" on Billy Jenkins True Love Collection.
Second, the number of bands who have used the label as a springboard. In other words, that I have been able to find a lot of great musicians early. So some of these are going on elsewhere, but we did it first (or nearly first!). Tom Arthurs is now a BBC New Generation Artist, Led Bib themselves got a Mercury nomination. Then there are all those musicians who received BBC Jazz Awards, while the awards existed - Fraud, Finn Peters, Acoustic Ladyland, Christine Tobin etc. etc. (By the way, I have always been surprised that Polar Bear, despite a Mercury nomination and great albums, didn't get a Jazzwise best album award or Seb Rochford never, despite the recognition that he has justifiably received, got any best musician gong).
So, if you are looking to the future of many musicians, come to check out our albums first?!
TrioVD, Amit Chaudhuri, Paula Rae Gibson, Golden Age Of Steam, Twelves Trio, Outhouse with Hilmar Jenson, Lothar Ohmeier (in the dark!) and more to come over the next year.
A model of a label which has probably been doing much of the same is Fresh Sound New Talent in Barcelona, where you would have heard first offerings by Brad Mehldau and and and.
Meanwhile, I am beavering away on bringing out at least one great "classic" British jazz album. It'll take time but I hope that the result will be positive....

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