I don't really have a favorite record label. Sure, if I had to pick majors, I'd go with Reprise, Sire, Atlantic (Warner Music Group) and Capitol. For jazz, I love Blue Note and most Concord Music Group subsidiaries. For Indies, 4AD, Twin Tone/Clean and Sub Pop are obvious favorites. But, I never got excited simply because a piece of music was released on a certain label. That changed when I discovered Thirsty Ear, a record label based in Connecticut. They blew my mind. Here's what some critics have had to say about them:
The Blue Series, has been one of the most innovative things to come around in jazz, or any music, of late. -Newsweek.com
Blue Series artists consistently deliver world-class performances that rarely fail to push the creative envelope- JAZZIZ
Thirsty Ear's Blue Series...has carved a niche for themselves as instantly recognizable as '60s Blue Note or '70s ECM. -Village Voice
Thirsty Ear Records Blue Series is reclaiming the youthful, intellectual challenge of jazz, finding new forms and audiences- LA Times
...a blueprint for the shape of jazz to come. -Rollingstone.com
The Blue Series continues to produce some of the very best music in jazz. These recordings are of rare quality; the momentum of this important series continues to build. -CMJ 2003 Year in Jazz
Credit (The Blue Series) for respecting Jazz's storied past, while remaining dedicated to pushing its boundaries into the future.Billboard
The Blue Series, modern jazz's consistent must-hear- Launch/Yahoo!
For me, It all started when I discovered a sampler called The Blue Series Sampler: The Shape of Jazz to Come. Now, if you are a jazz enthusiast, you'll know exactly what I found intrigued me about this sampler's title.
For everyone else, The Shape of Jazz to Come by Ornette Coleman is one of the best and most important albums ever recorded. It's also one of the best albums ever conceived...or not conceived (depending on your "free jazz" point of view.) It was an album that quite literally signaled the future of jazz and improvisation and was largely responsible for the free jazz movement. Never heard it before? Listen here:
Now that you have some context, let's get back to the Thirsty Ear's sampler. The "Blue Series refers to a collective of jazz musicians and electronic DJs sometimes called The Blue Series Continuum. It's an intoxicating blend of jazz, tasteful turntables and other cool sounds. It's a compilation but it feels like a legitimate album. In using the title The Shape Of Jazz To Come, Thirsty Ear seems to be making a statement that the continuum is making some of the most innovative jazz in recent memory. And, I think they're right. Shall we have a listen?
If you liked what you heard above, here are some other terrific releases that you should consider listening to.