Perhaps because jazz has such a precarious standing in American cultural life, I’m always moved by the depth of passion and dedication this music elicits in fans around the world. Listening to and discussing jazz in Buenos Aires or Madrid, for example, often has been an illuminating experience for me. The knowledge and enthusiasm of friends and colleagues in our discussions never fails to send me back to my music and my books both humbled and refreshed. Distance to the source plays its tricks, but it also gives a certain perspective on artists or values in the music that perhaps we have come to take for granted.
That said, I was surprised when I found out recently that a friend in Buenos Aires was starting a jazz label. Really. Are you serious? Now?
“How do you make a million dollars with jazz?,” the old joke goes. “Start with two million.”
And in case you are in the 1% and live blissfully unaware of what’s happening out there, there’s also a calamitous situation of the world economy in general and the record industry in particular. Still, Justo LoPrete, criminal law attorney, record collector and passionate jazz enthusiast, recently released the first batch of discs on his own label, Rivorecords. This week he’s going to the studio to record the next set
“I’ve been wanting to do something related to promoting jazz for a long time,” wrote LoPrete via email in response to my questions. “Recording was an option. And that would also allow me to take special care with the art and the packaging. The present, and probably the future, of the recording industry was not a concern. And no, the financial debacle hadn’t really started when we took on this project. But at any rate, this was not strictly taken as a business enterprise. And it’s clear that the recording industry is going a certain way and my tastes are going another way. It’s just that this was the moment when financially I could do it.”
Rivorecords feature young Argentine jazz artists focusing on a repertoire of American standards. The albums are impeccably produced, from the recording (done in the old, one-day style), to the sober, elegant packaging. (According to LoPrete, the look is a tribute to classic labels such as Blue Note, Riverside, and Pacific Jazz.)
“We decided to go in that direction [for repertoire] because I love standards,” wrote LoPrete. “For me, it was going back to the roots, if you will, and there are many [standards] that have not been recorded ad infinitum, but have beautiful melodies.”As for the one-day recording approach, he writes that it wasn’t as much due to budget considerations but as “to maintaining a certain freshness in the performances. There is not one punched-in note in those recordings. It was an approach we discussed with the musicians and we all agreed it was the way to go — even if we had to live with some less-than-perfect notes here and there.”
The first releases are by saxophonist Carlos Lastra’s quartet A Child Is Born, including versions of Mal Waldron’s “Soul Eyes,” and That Jones’s ”A Child Is Born;” trumpeter Mariano Loiacono’s What’s New?, including versions of Billy Strayhorn’s “Johnny Come Lately,” Nat Adderley’s “Work Song, and Victor Young’s “My Foolish Heart;” and pianist Paula Shocron leading her trio in Our Delight, including Tadd Dameron’s title track, and “Soultrane,” Hoagy Carmichael’s “One Morning in May,” and Duke Ellington’s “Melancholia.”
There is no distribution set yet in the United States and the label doesn’t have yet a page. “I know we need it,” wrote LoPrete. “We’re a bit behind on all that side of the project.”
But the recordings are available on eBay (use the artist’s name) or by contacting the label directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
December 2011, The International Review of Music / Jazz With an Accent