CLEAN FEED to release its two hundredth album
And now the time has come to highlight the CLEAN FEED-label, from Lisbon, Portugal. Since its genesis in 2001, it has turned into a highly respected player in the field of improvised music, which is the result of years of hard work, stubborn dedication and vision. Originally, it was their intention to release just a handful of albums each year. That was the case in their early days (3 releases in 2001, 6 in 2002), but since then, the label has increasingly moved forward, convinced a lot of musicians and listeners and has become one of the most highly regarded labels for improvised music in Europe, if not the world.
It might feel weird to consider they’re based in Portugal, of all places, but as label boss Pedro Costa points out, this might be one of its most importants assets: “We see ourselves as a world label because the music is just one. And especially for a label based in Lisbon, the message has to be clear: concentrating on the music we believe is crucial to document this very rich era, whether it’s from New York, Chicago, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm or Japan. That’s truly our manifesto.” Portugal boasts a strong live scene and very quickly the artist roster became quite impressive.
PEOPLE FROM ALL AROUND
From the early days onwards, they offered music by local talents (people like Rodrigo Amado, Carlos Zingaro and Julio Resende) as well as work by international artists, quite often from the United States. Among them important and groundbreaking musicians like Gerry Hemingway and Charles Gayle, but also younger talents like Steve Lehman, as well as lesser known veterans of the scene, such as Dennis Gonzalez (who released an impressive string of albums that pulled him out of relative obscurity), Ellery Eskelin and Steve Swell.
But that’s not nearly it, as the label also welcomed a bunch of musicians from Scandinavian countries and Italy. Clean Feed also facilitated some surprising encounters, such as TownOrchestraHouse, which featured both powerhouse drummer Paal Nilssen-Love as well as saxophone legend Evan Parker. And several more players started popping in, like Ken Vandermark and Anthony Braxton, who also appeared on the label’s one hundredth release in 2008, a 4CD box set also featuring guitar player Joe Morris.
PACKAGING AND PACE
The ways in which Clean Feed manifested itself are manifold. There’s the roster, there’s the impressive quality and (later) quantity, but for a while, it also boasted some of the most recognizable artwork, with cd’s that were packaged in artfully folded carboard covers with magnets, which have made way for mini LP-sleeves recently. The label also featured a DVD by 4 Corners (an international project featuring Americans Adam Lane & Ken Vandermark, Swedish trumpeter Magnus Broo and, again, Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love), and has guitar player Elliott Sharp curate a series within their catalog.
In the meantime, the pace at which the label released albums kept picking up. From the humble beginnings, they quickly moved to 20 releases in 2005, to more than thirty in 2009. We’ve recently seen a lot of younger talents making their entrance (Harris Eisenstadt, Kirk Knuffke, Peter Evans, Christian Lillinger), while several other artists released what may be their strongest work yet on Clean Feed (Tony Malaby, Hugo Antunes, Martin Küchen, with both his Trespass Trio and the Angles Sextet) or, as in the case of Tom Rainey, made their long-awaited debut (as a leader) on the label!
THE NOW AND THE FUTURE
In 2010, Clean Feed cd’s are being distrubuted in the USA, Japan and in Europe (in Belgium by yours truly), and it has become a household name in the field of free jazz, avant-garde, world jazz and improvised music in general. Just look around the net, and you’ll see that CF-releases are turning heads and receiving excellent press from both the larger jazz institutions as well as specialised blogs and e-zines. There have been 39 releases so far, this year, and nine more are lining up. The past few years, the label also hosted the annual Clean Feed Festival in New York, because it seems to have extra strong ties with that city and its many musicians in particular (several Americans on the roster are New Yorkers or have strong ties with the local scene).
CF#200, TONY MALABY’s TAMARINDO ‘LIVE’ FEAT. WADADA LEO SMITH presents a quartet recording from June this year and features the amazing line-up of saxophone player Malaby, visonary trumpeter Leo Smith, as well as bass guru William Parker and drummer Nasheet Waits (Jason Moran, etc). If that isn’t a line-up to make you drivel at the mouth, than no line-up in the field of jazz ever will. They’re selling it as “powerhouse free bop” and who are we to question that? We’ll offer more information about this new batch soon!
And what’s next? Time will tell, but there’s no doubt it’s gonna be an exciting ride. “I like to see us as an international label that doesn’t belong to any country, any scene, any kind of cooperative thing but only as a label that exists to release the music of today by people of today in the field of improvised music” (Pedro Costa). Needless to say that Instant Jazz is looking forward to the future as well!