Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Live at the Jazz Room --- new recording label debuts with Andrew McAnsh Septet

WATERLOO --- In support of talented but largely unknown artists a new recording label called Live at the Jazz Room debuts Friday with a special gathering in the Waterloo club.

The first CD on the label, the Andrew McAnsh Sextet, will be launched at a party beginning at 7 p.m. in The Jazz Room.  McAnsh and his band will perform Friday night as well.  The 25-year-old trumpet player and composer is finishing up his Bachelor's degree in the highly-regarded jazz program at Humber College in Toronto.

"I am really honoured that they chose my music to be their first release," McAnsh said in an interview with New City Notes.  "I mean, they had some of the world's finest musicians in there, and I am kind of confused as to why I am their first release."

Stephen Preece, the founder and president of the Grand River Jazz Society, said the new label is all about early-stage artists with exceptional talent.

Live at the Jazz Room will feature musicians with few, if any recordings, Preece said, and musicians who will benefit from having a high-quality CD.

"Andrew is a first class talent, with roots in Waterloo Region," Preece said.  "He and his sextet have performed numerous times at The Jazz Room and their performance proficiency, attention to detail, and song writing craft are at a very high level."

McAnsh and artists like him are the future of jazz in Canada, and Live at the Jazz Room wants to support them.

"His songwriting is very strong, with one foot in tradition and another exploring new directions," McAnsh said.  "At a stage in his career when it can really make a difference, I am proud to promote Andrew McAnsh as our first Live at the Jazz Room artist, and hope for many more of his kind in the future."

 Tom Nagy,  produced the CD, the technical director for the jazz society, the bass player in a prog-rock tribute band and an electrical engineer, produced the CD.  He worked for more than two years to make Live at the Jazz Room a reality.

The choice of Andrew as our first release was almost a no-brainer," Nagy said.
"The recording we're releasing showcases this performance as some of the finest modern jazz being played anywhere, which is key to our establishing this label as a mark of quality.  Add to this that Andrew could really benefit from having an album to promote, and the choice for our first disc is clear," Nagy said.

The Andrew McAnsh Septet includes Jeff laRochelle on tenor and alto saxophones, PJ Anderson on trombone, Paul Morrison on piano, Soren Nissen on bass and Ian Wright on drums. The Andrew McAnsh Septet played The Jazz Room a year. The recording of that show was used to make the first release under the new label.

McAnsh lives in Toronto now, but he is from Cambridge and was first turned onto the trumpet at St. Benedict's Secondary School.  McAnsh said he selected the trumpet because he was late for music class and all the other instruments were taken.

"My high school music teacher game me a few burned CDs of some of her favourite jazz recordings, and she encouraged me to learn the trumpet solos on them," McAnsh said.

"She gave me the classic Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard recordings and she said: 'Learn these and try to find a way to write them out, and show them to me, and I will tell you if they are right or not,'" McAnsh said.

That music teacher was Angela Lehmann.  And her husband Steve also took an early interest in McAnsh.

"Steve taught me basic jazz harmony.  The most basic of the basic, and he made it seem like the coolest thing, stayed that way ever since," McAnsh said.
The model developed by Nagy can be used by other venues, and he urges anyone interested in more details to get in touch.

"I'm hoping we can expand to online sales of CDs and downloads," Nagy said. "Order tracking, accounting, licensing and revenue sharing become much more complex as soon as you go online, and I'm looking forward to tackling those questions."

The Grand River Jazz Society has recordings of about 280 shows, including one of the last performances by the famed New York City jazz pianist Mulgrew Miller.  It also has recordings of Johnny O'Neil, Ingrid Jensen, Spike Wilner (with Paul Gill and Yotam Silberstein).

Any artist can get a copy of their recording for free. The Jazz Society usually retains the rights to the recordings, but only to ensure that any release gives properly acknowledes our engineer and the society, Nagy said.,

"We never charge artists for the recordings, and don't ask for royalties if the artist sells it.  In some cases, we've explicitly transferred ownership to another label if that's what needs to happen," Nagy said. "We don't mind if someone else mixes and releases one of the shows - frankly, it saves us the work!  Everything we do is in consultation with the artist, and with their full agreement."

The Jazz Room is the only club in Canada to have its own recording label.  The club is programmed by The Grand River Jazz Society.  In keeping with the non-profit status of the society, the recording label is not about making a profit. The band will receive half of the 500 CDs in this initial release.  The individual artists were also paid a fee for their original material on the CD.

 The live sound and recording was done by Jeremy Bernard, who works the sound board at the  back of the club for almost all of the show.  The mixing and mastering was by Earl McCluskie,  who has done the same for live jazz recordings at the Registry Theatre in Kitchener, where he is a regular on the sound board.  The covers were designed by Andrea Deering, and Gee Wong did the photography.

The Jazz Room is well equipped to capture live jazz in quality recordings.  The club is equipped with a state-of-the-art sound and  recording system, and a beautiful Yamaha C-7 piano.  For more information and the schedule of upcoming performers check out the club's website at www.kwjazzroom.com and remember, support live music.