Resonance Records is Now on Streaming

Resonance Records is Now on Streaming

Resonance Records Co-president Zev Feldman, who is sometimes referred to as the “Jazz Detective,” has one question he favors when meeting with musicians and music-industry types: “Do you have any tapes?”

Sometimes — in fact, more often than seems reasonable — the answers involve astonishing yet long-obscured music. To relate one example: at a jazz conference in Germany six years ago, he was able to meet the family of Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer, founder of the eclectic and revered jazz label MPS Records. Feldman popped his favorite query and, as he recalls, “This gentleman looks over both of his shoulders, and he looks me dead in the eye: ‘Can you keep a secret?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely.’ He says, ‘We have a never-before-issued studio album from Bill Evans from 1968.’

“And I think I just nearly passed out,” continues Feldman, whose music-industry experience prior to Resonance was focused in sales, distribution and marketing. “I couldn’t believe what he was telling me.” That conversation culminated in Some Other Time: The Lost Session from the Black Forest, a 21-track document of a short-lived version of the Bill Evans Trio that very deservedly became one of 2016’s most acclaimed jazz products.

Over the past decade, Resonance founder George Klabin, a veteran producer and engineer, Feldman and their staff have delivered a string of archival releases that are enough to make collectors, critics and historians swoon. Now, a vast majority of that music is available on TIDAL, along with Resonance’s ongoing releases by current artists. The digital trove is imposing: various lightning bolts by Evans and the guitarist Wes Montgomery; an unprecedented collection of recordings by the influential bassist Scott LaFaro; fiery live outings by the bassist Jaco Pastorius, the trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, the duetting piano masters Tommy Flanagan and Jaki Byard, the vocalist Shirley Horn, the funky piano trio the Three Sounds and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra; and much more.

A consistent presence on Record Store Day’s master list of limited-edition goodies, Resonance has reaped abundant praise — and one of its two Grammy Awards — for the extramusical elements of its packages. The label’s vinyl and CD sets, full of dutifully researched liner notes and rare photos, evoke and often transcend releases from the reissue-crazed 1990s.

The reading experience complements the listening to a T; in the booklet accompanying the 2015 Montgomery box In the Beginning, for instance, the contributors include Pete Townshend, Quincy Jones and jazz authorities Ashley Kahn and Bill Milkowski, among others.

“George says to me, time and time again, ‘Listen, we’re curators,’” explains Feldman, who is also currently engaged in jazz-sleuthing for Blue Note Records. “‘We’re building this virtual museum that’s going to live on past our lifetimes.’”

Resonance operates as a wing of Klabin’s registered non-profit Rising Jazz Stars Foundation, an arrangement that allows the brand to put the music and mission before profit margins, Feldman says. He also points out that he places special emphasis on doing right by the musicians’ families and estates and other rights holders.

Streaming is a way for Resonance to enter markets and nations that were previously forbidding, Feldman argues, as well as being a strategy for spreading the word about the work he and his colleagues have been immersed in.

“All you got to do is listen,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be some cerebral exercise — just put it on and listen, man. And then you know what? Maybe that’ll inspire you to want to read more and check out more, and maybe even get one of our well-curated packages. I hope that folks will want to do that too. But I want to reach all corners of the world now, and I think we need to think globally.”

Enjoy these choice Resonance cuts — and happy exploring.

Eric Dolphy, “Love Me (Alternate Take 2)”

The saxophonist and bass clarinetist Eric Dolphy has been aptly described as jazz history’s J Dilla — an intellectually voracious innovator who died tragically in his thirties, but remains an influence on the music’s more adventurous wing. In this previously unissued alternate take off Resonance’s Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions, Dolphy offers a solo alto clinic that summons up the passion and pathos of his immortal solo bass clarinet interpretation of “God Bless the Child.” It also points toward his legendary work ethic. Like his comrade John Coltrane, Dolphy is a musician whose romantic appeal lies in part in his spiritual dedication to practice. Musical Prophet, a coup for jazz history even by Resonance’s standards, includes 85 minutes of previously unreleased Dolphy studio recordings.

Grant Green, “Medley”

Grant Green, whose single-note guitar lines remain standards of smart melodic concision and keen rhythmic understanding, is typically seen as one of two archetypes: the consummate, utilitarian hard-bop and postbop guitarist of Blue Note Records’ thrilling ’60s; and the later funkateer whose grooves have been sampled to fuel many club dancefloors.

Slick! Live at Oil Can Harry’s, recorded in Vancouver in 1975, four years prior to Green’s death, approaches the totality of what the guitarist could do. Its treasures include a hard-swinging trek through Charlie Parker’s “Now’s the Time” and this tour de force fusion and R&B medley. The funk should sound familiar, but the opening take on Stanley Clarke’s “Vulcan Princess” is a prog-tinged epiphany. For more gritty, psych-tinged guitar courtesy of Resonance, dig into Dennis Coffey’s Hot Coffey in the D: Burnin’ at Morey Baker’s Showplace Lounge.

Bill Evans, “Very Early”

Arguably the mightiest of Resonance’s archival finds, the lengthy studio session Some Other Time, by a fleeting version of the Bill Evans Trio, sat in a safe for decades after it was cut in Germany in 1968.

Prior to the album’s poll-topping release in 2016, the band of Evans — among jazz piano’s monumental stylists — bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette had released only a single album, the Grammy-winning At the Montreux Jazz Festival. Captured five days after that live date, at the MPS label’s studio in the picturesque Black Forest, Some Other Time finds Evans digging in with a tougher, more explicitly rhythmic touch than fans of his classic Village Vanguard recordings might expect. But his trademarked knack for leading nimbly interactive and egalitarian ensembles remains on offer, as this version of his formative composition “Very Early” proves.

Wes Montgomery, “After Hours Blues”

Through multiple sets of previously unissued music, Resonance has added invaluable new dimensions to the story of Wes Montgomery, perhaps the most important jazz guitarist of all time. The label kicked off this mission in 2012 with Echoes of Indiana Avenue, a kind of Portrait of the Guitarist as a Young Man: mid-to-late ’50s live and studio recordings that constitute the earliest documents of Montgomery as a leader, captured at spots around his and his famous brothers’ hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana.

On a program consisting mostly of Monk and standards, the evolution of his effortlessly melodic improvising is front and center. But this fun and raucous slow blues tells a tangier story. Alongside pianist Earl Van Riper and bassist Mingo Jones, Montgomery’s stinging, snappy leads recall the electric-blues brilliance of T-Bone Walker, Gatemouth Brown, Guitar Slim, Johnny “Guitar” Watson and the like.

Sarah Vaughan, “A-Tisket A-Tasket”

The virtuoso jazz singer Sarah Vaughan had a legendarily far-reaching range and a sense of phrasing that earned her countless comparisons to masterful instrumentalists. But it was her earthy charisma that brought the rapture home. This cut off Resonance’s Live at Rosy’s, a concert recording originally captured for NPR in New Orleans in 1978, is the sort of moment that can reaffirm your faith in live recordings.

A dopey audience member mistakes Vaughan for Ella Fitzgerald, calling out a request for Ella’s signature “A-Tisket A-Tasket.” Instead of taking offense, Vaughan parlays the flub into some very good jokes and an even funnier stab at the tune — which somehow also manages to highlight her casually powerful chops.

Charles Lloyd, “Dream Weaver”

The saxophonist and flutist Charles Lloyd recorded the music appearing on Resonance’s Manhattan Stories at two venues in the borough in 1965. Within his timeline, that’s a fascinating pocket; he’d gained a profile through his playing and composing for drummer Chico Hamilton’s forward-looking band and as a fledgling bandleader, but he hadn’t yet solidified the landmark quartet — Lloyd, Keith Jarrett, Cecil McBee, Jack DeJohnette — that would record 1967’s Forest Flower and turn Lloyd into a psychedelic-era jazz-crossover phenomenon.

The band here features early Lloyd collaborators never before heard in this combination: the leader on tenor sax and flute; world-jazz guitarist Gábor Szabó, another Hamilton alum; and the enviable rhythm tandem of bassist Ron Carter and drummer Pete La Roca. This particular cut, captured at the rough-and-tumble East Village haunt Slugs’, is the earliest known recording of a composition that would go on to become a staple of Lloyd’s programs. In its patient, nomadic serenity, this particular “Dream Weaver” serves as a reminder of how timeless Lloyd’s ensemble chemistry is. At 81, he’s still helming groups with this style of soulful, melodic rumination.

Stan Getz/João Gilberto, “É Preciso Perdoar”

When it was released in 2016, Resonance’s archival release Getz/Gilberto ’76 was considered a welcome addition to the bossa-nova record shelf, a rare opportunity to take in the peak chemistry between the tenor giant Stan Getz and bossa trailblazer João Gilberto.

Since Gilberto’s death on July 6, 2019, Getz/Gilberto ’76 has felt more like the revelation it is, highlighting how little documentation of the Getz/Gilberto rapport that actually exists. To wit: the original edition of Getz/Gilberto #2, the 1966 follow-up to the pair’s landmark album from ’64, showcased the two men playing separate sets at the same Carnegie Hall concert.

A proper sequel of sorts arrived with The Best of Two Worlds, recorded in 1975, and by the time this week-long stint at San Francisco’s Keystone Korner was recorded in May of ’76, the legendarily reclusive Gilberto had clearly settled into a groove and a repertoire with Getz’s band.

The hooky “É Preciso Perdoar,” written by Alcivando Luz and Carlos Coqueijo, is a good teaser for the quiet dazzle that filled that North Beach nightclub. As Getz points out at the top of the program, the combination of Gilberto’s guitar and vibrato-free whisper of a singing voice is beyond unique. Nearly as impressive is how Getz’s band, which includes modern-jazz masters like drummer Billy Hart and pianist Joanne Brackeen, rein in their virtuosity to meet Gilberto’s soothing demands. The saxophonist, as usual, is a fount of hang-loose lyricism.

Image: Grant Green in Vancouver, September 1975; photo: © Gerry Nairn, Courtesy of Resonance Records

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