Ravi Coltrane Starts Label

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Since the inception of the jazz business over 80 years ago, progressive-minded jazz musicians have yearned for both the artistic freedom and career control that the creation and ownership of their own recordings would provide. Today, with label cutbacks resulting from the retail crisis and the availability of free product on the Internet, combined with the access to affordable high quality recording technology, more and more musicians are talking about self-empowerment through issuing their own
recordings.

But two musicians—reedmen Ravi Coltrane and Michael McGinnis, along with Ravi’s wife and business partner, Kathleen Hennessy—have united to turn talk into
action by forming RKM Music. Originally conceived by Ravi in 1999, it was the music of McGinnis and trumpeter/fluegelhornist Ralph Alessi that provided the catalyst for him to finally get things in motion.

Founded upon the principle of allowing each artist to have total control over the recording from start to finish, every CD issued will be produced by the artist and recorded in a manner that best facilitates and captures the sound of his or her group creating music in the moment. While the initial plan was to form a web-based label, the three founders recognized the importance of having a presence in retail outlets to work in coordination with touring and promotion. To that end, RKM has a national distribution agreement City Hall Records for its initial release of three CDs.

This release includes two CDs by Ralph Alessi—Vice And Virtue and This Against That—and Tangents by McGinnis and Between Green. Coltrane serves as executive producer on all three albums. While it may seem a bit unorthodox for a new label to issue two CDs by the same artist simultaneously, the contexts of the two recordings are significantly different, united by the remarkable musical artistry of Alessi.

Vice And Virtue is actually a collaboration with former Steve Coleman and Ani DiFranco sideman Shane Endsley, who brings his own singular approach to drumming to this date, occasionally doubling on trumpet as well. Another Coleman alumnus, trombonist Tim Albright contributes his talents on several tracks. A daring departure from the norm, Vice And Virtue offers the opportunity to hear two of today’s most original musicians engage in a sonic journey that captures the true spirit of improvised music.

This Against That takes a somewhat different path. Alessi heads an all-star line-up of Don Byron on clarinet, guitarist David Gilmore, Drew Grees on bass, Nasheet Waits on drums, and special guests, pianist Jason Moran and poet Julie Patton. Unlike many other assemblages of such notable individual talents, these are no hired guns, as each of these fine artists have performed and recorded alongside Alessi extensively over the past few years in groups led by Byron, Steve Coleman, Uri Caine and Fred Hersch.

McGinnis’ Tangents is a paean to being in the moment, giving voice to the elements that are influencing his world right now. Taking the Ellingtonian method of composing with a specific focus on the musicians who would be playing, the music takes a chamber approach that incorporates improvisation, allowing each player to contribute to the outcome of the composition. Michael1s exceptional saxophone and clarinet work is enhanced by Endsley on trumpet and a rhythm section of Jacob Sacks, Dave Ambrosio and Mark Dodge on piano, bass and drums respectively, along with a special guest appearance by vocalist Anna Dagmar Johnson. Tangents reflects McGinnis’ interests and influences and incorporates a synthesis of disparate sounds into a seamless musical statement.

Future releases include a new recording by Venezuelan pianist Luis Perdomo and a project with poet Julie Patton with many members of the RKM collective producing tracks.

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