Reviewing the guys behind the glass and a label. Posi-Tone under the looking glass!
Recently I reviewed an artist that is a producer. Now I want to review some producers that are also record executives with Posi-Tone Records one of the finest straight ahead and swinging labels with an exciting stable of talent! Marc Free of course is the producer and Nick O’Toole is the engineer and together they create consistent high quality straight ahead jazz tailored to the artist while always keeping the listener in mind In short…if you dig the Rudy Van Gelder sound these guys are off the hook!
Tell us something about the history and origin of Posi-Tone?
M.f. – “Posi-Tone was founded in Los Angeles in 1994 by producer Marc Free and engineer Jamie Brunson as a vehicle to make records by artists of all genres that they felt needed to be heard. In 2004 after releasing a live recording of the Sam Rivers trio, Posi-Tone changed gears by bringing in Nick O’Toole as the in-house engineer and started focusing on recording New York City area jazz artists. Through the last few years, Posi-Tone has expanded it’s production with steady growth and released a wide variety of small ensemble instrumental jazz groups. Posi-Tone now boasts a catalog of over 90 titles by some of the best musicians in the world.”
I think knowing the real “mission statement” of the label can help the record buying public once they get a handle on taste…With that in mind, How would you describe the label and it’s intent to the casual listener?
M.F. – “We are actively focused on building a large catalog of recordings that will succeed in demonstrating to the worldwide marketplace the company’s high standards of artistic aesthetic and audiophile quality music products. Our mission is to gradually create and present a consistent label identity/brand with the stated intent of building an audience of new listeners and accumulating a sufficient niche market of discriminating music lovers who recognize, prefer and rely upon us as their choice for purchasing new premium quality music products. Posi-Tone’s records are intended to simply deliver the finest artistic expressions of modern, mainstream, and straight-ahead jazz, and is focused on directing it’s audience towards the sound and message of the music, and not just the populist or commercial aspects of its presentation.”
Is there a litmus test so to speak for the type of talent you look to record and with the economy still flat lining,
does that put you in the same position as every other business of trying to work smarter not harder and have sales remained steady?
M.F. – “Here at Posi-Tone we are serious jazz geeks first and smart businessmen second. We sincerely believe our intended target audience is comprised of a bunch of people very much like ourselves in age and tastes, so we keep our primary A&R focus on making the kinds of jazz records that we know that we would want to buy and listen to. If a potential new artist’s music doesn’t bring on some serious jazz geeking around the office then we are definitely going to take a pass on doing a project. All that being said, the record also has to make good business sense too in terms of projected budgets and revenues. We aren’t in a position to provide artists with patronage, and we depend on our record sales to continue production, so we certainly can’t afford to overspend or lose money on too many projects and actually hope to stay in business. This of course makes the calculus of finding artists and planning projects that are a good fit for Posi-Tone much more difficult.”
Ive read several articles where there is a debate over the quality of say a downloaded file or mp3 and that of a CD. Most people saying the CD is vastly superior. What do you think and is the death of the compact disc on the horizon or is it still several years out?
Nick O’Toole – “The sound quality of Cd’s, compared to MP3s is superior, but the audience is speaking pretty loudly that they like the convenience of the MP3 and that the sound difference is not noticeable to them. It’s the economics of the MP3 that is changing how record labels must think to stay alive in today’s world. Though sales are declining pretty quickly, we believe the CD still plays an important roll in the music business. People still enjoy holding a product in there hands, and the press and radio still demand it. The CD is also the best way for a jazz artist to give adorning fans at gigs a way to continue to enjoy the music and support the artist. We have tried other means, like download cards or stick drives, and they haven’t worked. We don’t see the CD dying anytime soon, as it is arguably the sonic pinnacle of commercial music, but it will probably play the role of satisfying the audiophiles, like vinyl does now.”
I want to thank Nick and Marc Free who guide a label that is more of a collaborative or perhaps jazz collective by design with a specific mission statement. As a critic, Posi-Tone may be one of three of the very best in straight ahead jazz that as I like to say “Swings hard or goes home.” Based an amazing stable of talent, a sincere commitment to the consumer and a genuine enthusiasm in doing the job the right way each and every time Posi-Tone is a label that is literally money when it comes to dropping a new release. Great sound quality and some of the hottest up and coming talent in the business. This one is easy: