Catalytic-Sound's free-jazz online clearinghouse | Bleader

Catalytic-Sound's free-jazz online clearinghouse


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Fans of free jazz and improvised music tend to be fervid, but record sales are another story. This is fringe music, but the people who follow it are passionate, and since the music tends to be well documented by small independent labels spread all over the globe, there are a lot of records and CDs to purchase. Considering small runs—which generally peak out at 1,000 copies—these titles often lack good distribution, which is why when many traveling musicians visit town they often set up a merchandise table that looks like a pop-up record shop. The Internet was supposed to let musicians take commerce into their own hands, but that hasn't happened too often in this particular community—which is why it was so interesting when Ken Vandermark, Peter Brötzmann, Mats Gustafsson, and Paal Nilssen-Love created Catalytic-Sound in May 2011, basically allowing fans to buy music directly from them.

The website serves as a mail-order clearinghouse for their voluminous output, much of which is very hard to come by in the U.S.—as many recording have been issued on small European imprints that rarely make it past our borders, except when the musicians themselves are lugging the goods. The operation runs out of Chicago, where the entire inventory is housed and where all of the orders are shipped from—including those to Europe. As great as the idea was to begin with, it got a lot better earlier this spring when Steve Marquette—who took over from Mandy Offenbacher, who started the project last October—began beefing up a complementary Bandcamp page that had been active but pretty sleepy since the main site launched. Now there are 95 albums—some of them otherwise out of print—available as digital downloads, and most of them including free streaming audio of the entire recordings. Currently there are loads of titles from well-respected imprints like Okka Disk, Atavistic, Smalltown Superjazz, and Not Two, and Marquette says many more downloadable albums are on their way. "The plan is to add as many titles as possible," says Marquette. "We're currently working on adding out-of-print and LP-only releases to the Bandcamp page as well. We work out agreements with the record labels for digital products; as long as they're fine with us putting it on the site, we'll add it." Below are sample tracks that represent the bounty.

Today's playlist:

Hera, Where my Complete Beloved Is (Multikulti)
Edzayawa, Projection One (Soundway)
Han Bennink Trio, Bennink # Co. (ILK)
Nico Huijbregts, Dialogue Dreams (Vindu Music)
The Cookers, Believe (Motema)

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