Edition Records Forges Global Connections

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Edition Records founder Dave Stapleton is celebrating the label’s 10-year anniversary.

(Photo: Courtesy Edition Records)

As Edition Records founder Dave Stapleton reflected on the label’s 10-year milestone with his friend, bassist and composer Jasper Høiby, Stapleton came to a significant realization.

“The label is built on connections because, through you”—he motioned to Høiby, before reeling off a number of Edition signees—“I met Marius Neset, and through Marius I met Daniel Herskedal. Then through Daniel Herskedal I met Eyolf Dale, and then through Verneri Pohjola and Olavi Louhivuori I met Aki Rissanen … it just spreads.”

Edition—which was founded in Cardiff, Wales, and now is based near Reading, England—has a global outlook, with an emphasis on Europe. In addition to British artists Slowly Rolling Camera and Tim Garland, the label also nurtures Oddarrang (Finland), Eyolf Dale (Norway) and Phronesis, featuring Høiby (Denmark), pianist Ivo Neame (U.K.) and drummer Anton Eger (Sweden).

It was American drummer Mark Guiliana who formally introduced Stapleton and Høiby. “I remember Jasper talking to me about Phronesis and his ideas for a live concert,” Stapleton recalled. “It was just a no-brainer.” The conversation that Stapleton recounted turned out to be a fruitful one; Alive, the critically acclaimed live recording released in 2010, was Phronesis’ third album—and first with Edition. (It also featured a different lineup, with Guiliana on drums.)

It’s clear that Stapleton and Høiby, who began working with each other a year after Edition was founded, share a bond that is fused by both professional admiration and friendship. “I remember I told you to sign the trio because I would sell more albums than anyone else on your label,” Høiby said with dry humor.

Edition has had a busy 10 years, thanks to Stapleton’s broad aesthetic, which honors the jazz tradition but also is expansive enough to include cinematic soundscapes, Scandinavian elegance and, in the recent case of Dinosaur’s Wonder Trail, indie jazz-rock.

Although Edition’s reputation has strengthened over the decade, Stapleton humbly admitted that there have been “more failures than successes.” He explained: “Of course we only talk about the good things that happen. The rewards aren’t the big moments that you expect. It’s looking back on the breadth of everything that we’ve achieved, and how we’ve adapted, what we’ve learned, and navigating the way through the difficulties in building a business in music. If someone had said to me in 2008 what would happen in order to get to this point, I’m not sure I would have gone with it: Why start a jazz label in a recession year? On paper it doesn’t make sense at all.”

None of this phased Høiby, though. “I thought that Dave was better in the business than anyone else around,” he said. “I’m proud of many of the things I’ve done on the label. As an artist you tend to measure things in the shorter term because you spend a lot of time living in the moment. You keep chasing little achievements. It’s really good to have someone in your corner who can go, ‘It’s good, I trust you, here’s what you should do.’”

Stapleton then offered an analogy: “If you sit in a boat on the Atlantic, you’re always looking at the horizon. That’s always gonna move with you. You forget about what’s going on in that boat there and then. You miss the detail of what’s going on in the wind of the sails, for example. I’ve learned to enjoy the process, enjoy the day-to-day. It’s making those the successes, rather than what’s perceived to be the obvious successes—like getting a gig or a new signing.”

This fall, Edition will release the eighth album from Phronesis, We Are All. The trio continues to explore angular melodies and evocative soundscapes. And as an ensemble, they sound tighter and more confident than ever.

“It’s still the start of where we can go,” Stapleton said. “Having that collaboration and trust between us, it’s quite rare. That’s the sort of thing that makes me really proud and happy to be doing this thing. It’s been a great journey so far, and look at where we could be in another 10 years—that part is the most fun for me.” DB



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