Record producer Zev Feldman is a bona fide jazz zealot, a man who brings a messianic glee to his desire to spread the music’s gospel. In recent years he’s tirelessly tracked down, licensed and beautifully packaged a growing list of vintage live performances (and in a few cases, studio recordings) of some jazz’s most revered figures, including Bill Evans, Larry Young and Sarah Vaughan, among others.
Most of those titles have been released by Resonance Records, but his reach is expanding, including a dazzling new set, Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960, a previously unissued soundtrack cut by Thelonious Monk for the Roger Vadim film of the same name for Sam/Saga Records. It’s one of four new titles Feldman has put together for 2017, and he can barely conceal his enthusiasm when discussing their initial launch on April 22—the 10th anniversary of Record Store Day, which exists to celebrate independent record shops.
“It’s a very important event for us,” Feldman said. “We plan around it, and because of Record Store Day we’ve been able to commit to projects that wouldn’t haven’t happened otherwise.”
In addition to the Monk title, there are three new releases from Resonance: a Bill Evans Trio date from 1968 in the Netherlands with Eddie Gomez and Jack DeJohnette, a Wynton Kelly Trio date from Seattle in 1966 with guitarist Wes Montgomery, and a massive Jaco Pastorius big band set recorded for NPR in 1982 and spread across three records. All four titles are made available on Record Store Day only as LPs in deluxe packages with detailed liner notes, rare photos and high quality pressings on 180-gram vinyl.
The Monk set, in particular, is magnificent—with renditions of classic material cut in New York in 1959 by Charlie Rouse, Sam Jones, and Art Taylor with guest tenor saxophonist Barney Wilen, who traveled from France with producer Marcel Romano, a massive jazz fan who introduced Vadim to Monk’s music, and the same man who enlisted Miles Davis to record the soundtrack for the Louis Malle film Ascenseur pour L’echafuad. The 50-page LP-size booklet is packed with previously unseen studio photos, including color shots.
Feldman admits that these items generate a nice cash flow for the label, but what he stresses more is how excited he is that such titles potentially pull listeners into local record shops. “Getting people to come back into record stores is what it’s about, and it’s a great way to introduce these things to our fans,” he said, noting that CD and download versions of all of the titles would be released later in the year.
Rick Wojcik, owner of Chicago’s Dusty Groove and a long-time champion of vinyl, agrees that Record Store Day pulls customers into the store, although the mound of limited-edition titles sometimes means buyers save up and can be scarce before the event. But he focuses on the upside.
“There’s a huge amount of people who come out that would never come into a record store normally,” he said. “We see lots of families and kids throughout the day—and lots of other well-wishers from the community. After that early first morning rush, the range of people is wonderful, and that really makes us feel great about how many people are out there to support what we do, even if they’re not regular record buyers.”
While the majority of the special titles released each year for Record Store Day are primarily rock and pop, jazz has always had a presence.
“I just think that there’s only been a few who’ve really been smart enough to respond in the right way, with the right sort of titles,” said Wojcik. “Strut, for example, have given us some really great jazz releases—mostly Sun Ra—and Resonance has too. Titles by both of those labels are very big for us on both Record Store Day and the related Black Friday schedule.”
Feldman, a jazz lifer who’s logged stints at Polygram and Concord before getting involved with Resonance, credits record stores with kindling his passion. He says he’s intent on helping others share the experience.
“It was where I learned so much,” he said, “just from sitting in the place, taking it in and talking to people about music.”
(Note: DownBeat has posted an exclusive 2017 Record Store Day Wish List.) DB