For many professionals in the Jazz business, its current economic climate presents problems of seemingly insurmountable proportions. For George Klabin, the visionary President of the Rising Jazz Stars Foundation, these challenges offer a tremendous opportunity to not only instill a new vibrancy into the art form, but also to establish a significantly more equitable financial environment for its artists. The centerpiece of his bold and innovative plan is Resonance Records, a new Los Angeles-based label that will release its first recordings in March of 2008.
Klabin, with over two decades of experience as a producer and audio engineer, has recorded a full spectrum of jazz heavyweights for a wide variety of major labels. These include Dexter Gordon, Bill Evans, James Moody, Illinois Jacquet, Keith Jarrett, Albert Ayler, Charles Lloyd, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band and many more. As owner of the legendary New York recording studio Sound Ideas, Klabin was the overseer of sessions for top stars like James Brown and Quincy Jones as well as pure jazz giants such as Sonny Stitt, Tommy Flanagan and Archie Shepp.
Drawing from that priceless experience and his direct participation on the New York Jazz scene from the mid-'60s well into the '80s, Klabin combined it with 10 years of experience in the world of non-profit foundations to form the Rising Jazz Stars Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in 2005. As a program of the Foundation, Resonance Records is able to structure its economic resources in a manner that frees it from many of the limitations that exist in the normal jazz record business. Its artists benefit from an innovative revenue-sharing concept that not only offers greater economic return, but also allows them to produce their music without the typical studio time restrictions and their related expenses.
The Foundation's studio is outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment and the finest instruments, including a seven foot Fazioli grand piano, and has been designed to offer a uniquely comfortable ambience that is most conducive to the artists' creativity. A state-of-the-art, high-definition 6-camera set-up is under construction in the studio and is slated for its first productions in mid-2008. The full-production studio and its building are entirely under the direct auspices of the Rising Jazz Stars Foundation. With the funding capability and other economic participation afforded by the use of the 501(c)(3) structure, commercial concerns take a back-seat to its primary purposes - enabling extraordinarily talented artists to create their best possible audio and video recordings, while developing valuable opportunities to display their artistry to new and wider audiences.
In addition to the perfect environment of the studio and the production talents of George Klabin, Resonance's artists will also benefit by further support from the Rising Jazz Stars Foundation. Other programs that are in development will establish a performance component geared toward presenting the artists at festivals and other facilities around the world, while also addressing the burgeoning television, Internet and home entertainment marketplace.
To handle the day-to-day business aspects of Resonance, Ricky Schultz has been retained as Consulting Director. With 35 years of experience running major jazz labels for Warner Bros and MCA as well as his own independent label Zebra, his expertise will bring Resonance product into the traditional retail marketplace and the rapidly expanding world of on-line distribution.
However, none of these plans or concepts would have any meaning without truly compelling artists. As the Foundation's name clearly indicates, its primary purpose is to discover and present exceptional new jazz talent. This does not mean new in terms of age or experience, but rather in the artists' existing level of public recognition. Resonance Records will also feature the Heirloom Series for music that was either recorded previously, is of historical significance, or is by already renowned artists. Since its inception three years ago, the Rising Jazz Stars Foundation has been establishing its relationships with a group of outstanding talents of various ages and degrees of recognition. The common bond is their artistic integrity, passionate commitment and sheer musicality.
The first four releases are slated for March and April 2008. The March release includes a previously unreleased quartet recording (Heirloom Series) made in London by pianist Gene Harris, whose group The Three Sounds was a mainstay of Blue Note Records during the '50s and '60s. The first Resonance CD is a tribute to Herbie Hancock by pianist/composer John Beasley, whose touring credits range from Miles Davis to Queen Latifah, and who has composed extensively for film and television. Beasley is joined on this effort by Roy Hargrove, Christian McBride and Jeff Tain" Watts.
Both April releases will be two-disc sets coupling a CD with a DVD. One features the amazing young Swedish guitarist Andreas Oberg performing compositions by other guitar greats, along with some of his own compositions. The second release is by 61-year-old Brooklyn native Mike Garson, best known as David Bowie's keyboard player for over 35 years. Mike studied with piano legend Lennie Tristano and his sideman credentials include work with such luminaries as Freddie Hubbard and Stanley Clarke. Future releases include recordings by Brazilian trumpeter Claudio Roditi, violinist Christian Howes with pianist Roger Kellaway, pianist Bill Cunliffe, Brazilian guitarist/vocalist Toninho Horta, flautist Lori Bell and vocalist Cathy Rocco.