Thursday, November 06, 2003

The art of reviewing: major vs. indie

A few posts ago, I mentioned approaching CDs differently depending on whether they were released on major, indie, or artist-run labels. I've thought about this a bit more during the past few days, and come to the conclusion that I don't really approach the albums differently. At most, my advocacy role changes.

I really like Stacey Kent (admittedly, in a guilty pleasure kind of way), but feel no need to actively advocate her music, as she's already quite popular. On the other hand, my Pierre Van Dormael mega-interview clearly indicates that I feel differently about him (it's the result of about 9 hours of conversation!). Another example is a stunning EP I recently received from Tunisian pianist Wajdi Cherif. A detailled post on that soon.

As far as Belgian albums go, there are 30-40 jazz releases per year (this page tallies them all). Most are spread out between a few labels: Igloo (the biggest back catalogue, I think), De Werf (currently the most interesting and dynamic), Lyrae, Carbon 7 (former home of AKA Moon) and Mogno (relatively new, but has some good and varied stuff, although their website is in dire need of updating). Check out this page for a more complete listing.

This year, however, albums on artist-run labels have, overall, been at least as good as those on more established labels: Flat Earth Society's "The Armstrong Mutations," Jef Neve's "Blue Saga" (hmm, I hadn't mentioned Jef in a while), Chris Mentens's "Driving With the Jazz Van" and Maak's Spirit's "Le nom du vent" in particular come to mind. I'll recap all these albums (and more!) by year's end.