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Savoy Jazz Set For Ambitious New Year

01.07.03

Savoy Jazz today announced the acquisition of the catalogue of 32 Records which includes the noted traditional jazz labels Muse and Landmark, founded by Joe Fields and Orrin Keepnews respectively. Savoy Jazz is a wholly owned subsidiary of CME (Columbia Music Entertainment formerly Nippon Columbia), the Japan-based recorded music company with operations in both the U.S. and Asia. CME is headed by Chairman and CEO, Strauss Zelnick.

Featuring recordings from a who’s who of jazz artists including Grant Green, Pat Martino, Woody Shaw, Bobby Hutcherson, Kenny Burrell, Houston Person and Donald Byrd, the 32 Records label also created the enormously successful ‘Jazz for a Rainy Day’ series that is still the best selling jazz mid-line collection ever. That series will be relaunched under the Savoy label in late January for Valentine’s Day promotions in updated packaging using the original covers, featuring the models of Elle magazine.

"We are delighted by the acquisition of the 32 Records catalogue," said Strauss Zelnick, Chairman/CEO of Savoy Jazz parent company Columbia Music Entertainment. "The Muse and Landmark catalogues combine with Savoy to give CME a commanding presence in jazz. We plan to aggressively leverage our strength in the genre on a global basis through both catalogue reissue and new recording."

“The depth of catalogue and caliber of artists from the combined entities will give us a tremendous opportunity to re-market from a treasure-trove of material and compliment our existing Savoy reissue program," said Steve Vining, Savoy’s President.

New Artists Signed

Savoy Jazz was the first label to record the early pioneers of Bebop more than sixty years ago. That tradition of putting the music first will continue with five new signees as the storied label begins its seventh decade of operations.

Steve Backer, Savoy’s Vice President of A&R, said, “I am thrilled to announce forthcoming projects by saxophonist James Moody, singers Andy Bey and Carol Welsman, flutist Hubert Laws and a collective group featuring saxophonist Mark Turner, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard. These projects will all have a specific musical viewpoint and will have an impact with music fans and the recording industry. In the face of declining artist rosters at many record labels, our aggressive thrust into the marketplace is particularly noteworthy.”

James Moody’s connection to Savoy dates back to 1946 on the classic Bebop Boys date led by Ray Brown and his All-Stars. His biggest hit, “Moody’s Mood for Love” recorded in 1949, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001. Besides countless recordings under his own name, Moody has guested with the Manhattan Transfer, Quincy Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente and Dave Brubeck, just to name a few. Moody, the 77-year-old NEA American Jazz Master, was acknowledged by former President Clinton “as composer, recording artist and sax and flute virtuoso who has made extraordinary contributions to America’s musical heritage.”

Andy Bey who also hails from Newark, New Jersey, the city where Savoy was founded, recorded his first solo album fifty years ago at the age of thirteen. Throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s, Bey performed and recorded with Max Roach, Horace Silver, Duke Pearson, Eddie Harris, McCoy Tyner, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Gary Bartz. In 1996 as a result of his album titled Ballad, Blues and Bey, the unassuming singer was critically acclaimed throughout the national media. James Gavin wrote in The New York Times, “Bey…turns songs into prayer like reveries…built on sounds woven into hypnotic lines in which the rhythm feels suspended in air.”

Carol Welsman, the Canadian born, Los Angeles-based singer recently finished her debut Savoy album singing in four languages, French, Portuguese, English and Italian. Titled The Language of Love, the multi-Juno Award artist will return to her native Toronto for the upcoming IAJE conference to debut the album live. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music, the singer was introduced to American audiences by Herbie Hancock at the 2000 Billboard Jazz Awards. Welsman recorded for BMG Canada in 2001, and her album, Hold Me, was critically and commercially successful.

Hubert Laws began performing with the Jazz Crusaders in Houston in 1954. He began recording as a solo artist from 1964 through 1966 and performed with Mongo Santamaria, Benny Golson, Jim Hall, James Moody and Clark Terry. His very successful CTI recordings in the first half of the 70s are considered jazz classics. Laws' virtuosity will allow him to record jazz albums for Savoy and Classical albums for Savoy’s sister label Denon.

Mark Turner is a post-bop tenor saxophonist most influenced by John Coltrane, but also notably Warne Marsh. Turner was raised in California and initially studied visual arts at Long Beach State, but decided instead to pursue music and transferred to Berklee. He moved to New York and worked with James Moody, Jimmy Smith, the TanaReid Quintet, Ryan Kisor, Jonny King, Leon Parker, and Joshua Redman. He recorded his first album as a leader, Yam Yam, in 1994; the follow-up, a self-titled effort, appeared in 1998. In This World appeared later that same year, and in early 2000 Turner resurfaced with The Ballad Session. Cafe Oscurra appeared a year later. “When Mark Turner improvises on the tenor,” states The New York Times jazz critic Ben Ratliff, “there’s a kind of cognitive dissonance: The sounds are light, but the ideas are heavy.”