Part One of Destination: Out's "We Love The Nineties" poll is out. As a bit of a followup to last year's infamous 1973-1990 extravaganza, Proprietors Chilly Jay Chill and Prof. Drew LeDrew have asked a number of critics, bloggers and musicians (including Gary Giddins, centrifuge, Matt Durutti, and yrs trly) to submit their list of Top 10 jazz albums for 1990-2000. The consensus favorite so far is Dave Douglas's Tiny Bell Trio outing Constellations, which was not on my list but could easily have been. Instead, I went with Stargazer -- his Wayne Shorter tribute, and the first Dave Douglas record I ever bought -- and Convergence, the last and strongest record with his "string band" -- Mark Feldman on violin, Erik Friedlander on cello, Drew Gress on bass, and Michael Sarin on drums.
Of course, it's no surprise that Douglas is represented on everyone's list since he kept coming out with, like, a record a week during the nineties, each one with a different band, on a different label, with a different concept animating the music. And, with few exceptions, they were ridiculously killing -- that run of 15 Douglas-led sessions (counting New and Used) from 1994's Parallel Worlds through 1999's Songs For Wandering Souls looks even more impressive in retrospect.
And it makes me wonder... has the decline and fall of the label system made that kind of sustained creative output impossible? It costs a lot of money to make a record, especially a studio record with the kind of sound quality and production values that those Joe Ferla-engineered Douglas joints embodied. Now that there's no such thing as a recording budget anymore, artists are left to foot the entire bill themselves, and if there was an emerging jazz musician today going through a Douglas-like explosion of creativity and wanting to document it and release it, they would quickly find themselves at the mercy of MBNA's debt collectors. (That is, if they had not already gone broke just trying to keep their head above water in the New New York.)
But while studio recording costs have not fallen, and the burden of paying them has shifted almost entirely to the artist, and the continuing collapse of the CD sales market makes it incredibly difficult for anyone to ever break even on their record, the flip side is that if you go the digital route, the distribution costs have dropped to almost zero. It's become much more difficult to actually make a record, but much, much easier to release it, and release it quickly -- almost as soon as it's recorded.
Speaking of which, the audio from Saturday's Bowery Poetry Club hit will be up real soon. (Pat Donaher has a writeup.) As always, I'm incredibly happy just to have you listen. I still marvel that an unsigned, underground big band without a studio recording can have a frickin' international following (of sorts). But should you ever feel the urge to offer more... tangible support, I would like to once again humbly direct you to the
button. Your continued support is what keeps us going, in a starkly literal sense.
Ten years ago, no one would have known about Secret Society except the people who actually came to our gigs. Now, it's all there for anyone to download, and has allowed me to reach people I'd never imagined would hear my music. Whenever this path starts to feel like a long, hard slog that can only end in heartbreak, I try to remember that.
Thanks also to all for your patience during my recent break from blogdonia. Regular blogging will resume starting now-ish. It's good to be back.