Many purists would probably say that calling a new jazz label "Kind of Blue" was almost blasphemous. After all, most critics believe that the Miles Davis album of that name to be the finest jazz recording of all time.
Roy Tarrant, founder and executive producer of this Swiss-based label acknowledges the name to be "ambitious" but believes that ultimately the quality of the music will fully justify its choice. The philosophy of the label is extremely simple: the finest available jazz musicians recorded in the best studios in the world. Most of the recordings are "live to 2-track" with a minimum of overdub and editing. The sound quality is warm but perfect.
The first 14 albums were released in 2006 to great critical acclaim and featured such great artists (in alphabetical order) as : Maucha Adnet, Kenny Barron, David Benoit, Randy Brecker, George Cables, James Carter, Ron Carter, Ndugu Chancler, Bill Charlap, Stanley Clarke, Angelo Debarre, Richard Galliano, Stefon Harris, Eddie Henderson, Hamilton De Holanda, Joe Lovano, Lewis Nash, Babik Reinhardt, Patrice Rushen, Toquinho, Phil Woods… Unusually so, for a European label, the initial emphasis was on North and South American musicians. This was mainly due to Suzanne Severini, head of A & R for the label in the U.S. who doubled as producer of some of its finest albums.
2007 saw the release of 10 new recordings starting with one of the greatest ever clarinet players, Tony Scott in a programme of standards. Other releases included the Quarteto Brasil, the Pablo Ziegler Quartet with Stefon Harris, Marco Pereira with Paul McCandless, Mark Soskin with John Abercrombie, Chris Potter, John Patitucci and Billy Stewart, Bobby Hutcherson with his first album in eight years, The Los Angeles Jazz Ensemble (Janis Siegel, Alan Pasqua, Larry Koonse, Bob Sheppard, Derek Oles and Peter Erskine), The Nut Tree Quartet (John Abercrombie, Jerry Bergonzi, Gary Versace and Adam Nussbaum), the Phil Woods Quintet with the second part of the American Songbook (vol I won the prestigious German Jazz Critics Award) and a George Cables 2CD piano solo.
The branding impulse - from Billboard Magazine Apr 29th, 2006
All jazz independents agree that developing the label as a brand is essential. This is the most important thing to establish, says Roy Tarrant, founder and president of Switzerland-based Kind of Blue Records, which recently launched with such titles as "Gypsy Swing! The Django Reinhardt Festival-Live at Birdland" and the Classical Jazz Quartet's "Play Rachmaninov", featuring a jazz super group comprising pianist Kenny Barron, vibes player Stefon Harris, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Lewis Nash. Tarrant points to the brand recognition of such '50s and '60s American labels as Blue Note, Impulse and Atlantic as well as the '70s success of European label ECM. "ECM created a brand," he says. "It matched quality music with minimalistic graphics, first with American musicians such as Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett before recording and breaking European jazz talents." Kind of Blue, Tarrant says, "took five years to prepare, to make recordings, finalize a 'look' and then get the records out." He notes that by "adding quality recordings to the brand, the catalogue should go on selling."
- Dan Ouellette