In This Issue
…..Few music industry executives have had as meaningful an impact on jazz music as producer, discographer, and entrepreneur Michael Cuscuna (shown in this 1985 photograph during a session he produced for the film Round Midnight). His life has been dedicated to music — first as a young fan, frequenting the record shops and clubs of New York, then as an ambitious and visionary radio host, and again as a producer who, while with Atlantic Records, worked with prominent artists across several musical genres.
…..This varied early life experience led him to imagine the possibilities of diving deep into the catalogs of the great jazz record labels (Blue Note, now in its 80th year, being the most prominent) to reveal unreleased gems, and ultimately marketing the tracks in packages with an artistic sensibility appropriate to the music’s rich aesthetic. Cuscuna built this model, and has followed it since the 1980’s on Mosaic Records (the label he co-founded in 1982), creating limited box sets from licensed music and offering them to consumers via mail order only. This has proven to be a brilliant and resilient strategy, and the resulting success is no small feat, particularly in light of the challenges facing music executives competing during a generation of dwindling demand for packaged media.
…..What Cuscuna has done, then, is .mine, find, and market.essential jazz music. In the process, he built rewarding relationships with artists and fellow record executives, and has contributed mightily to the possibility of making historic recordings and musicians relevant to a younger generation gaining enthusiasm and energy for discovery.
…..A career of this consequence merits recognition. Since his is a voice filled with spirit, wisdom, and vision about a music that was central to the American experience during the 20th Century, we asked Michael to participate in a conversation about his life and career, which you can read by clicking here.
…..Also in this issue…In celebration of Blue Note’s 80th year, we asked prominent writers and musicians the following question: “What are 4 or 5 of your all-time favorite Blue Note albums?” Interesting and entertaining responses can be read by clicking here; a new collection of jazz poetry; “On the Turntable,” is a new playlist of 18 recently released jazz recordings from six artists – Joshua Redman, Joe Lovano, Matt Brewer, Tom Harrell, Zela Margossian and Aaron Burnett; two new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Jazz History Quiz”; a new feature called “Pressed for All Time,”; a new photo-narrative by Charles Ingham; and…lots more.