By Jason Victor Serinus
BluePort Jazz and Hyperion in Lossless FLAC By Jason Victor Serinus
March 14, 2010 — BluePort Jazz’s catalog of 15 titles, recorded in jazz clubs and studios by Jim Merod, is now downloadable in lossless FLAC format from the House of Linn website. Merod—a PhD professor, an author of numerous books, a music critic for Enjoy the Music.com, and an equipment reviewer for Positive Feedback Online—is known for recording with as few microphones as possible and mixing everything live to two tracks in high-resolution (24-bit/96kHz) PCM format.
BluePort artists include Jaime Valle (Latin jazz), Noel Jewkes Quartet, Gene Bertoncini (guitar), Joe Wilder–Marshall Royal Quintet, Dale Fielder Quartet, Carl Saunders Sextet, Chris Colangelo, Nancy Marano, Joe Diorio Trio, Buster Williams Trio, Jackie Ryan, John Hicks Trio, Allen Smith Quartet, and Steve Situm. Although some of these artists are relatively unknown to the uninitiated, listening to the lamentably brief MP3 samples on Merod’s BluePort Jazz website suggests that there’s gold for the taking here.
“These are the artists who had a need,” Merod told me by cellphone as he trudged across the Soka University campus in Orange County, CA to teach a class. “My feeling has always been that if I’m going to have a record label, I’d like to support artists who could use the help. The subtext is, major record labels have supported some of the major names for years because of the profits involved. I want to support very, very great jazz musicians who often have not gotten a break.”
Merod proceeded to tell me about a few of his artists. “Allen Smith was the first major unknown trumpet player I brought out on the BluePort label. He was Ella Fitzgerald’s favorite trumpeter, and she used him whenever she was on the West Coast. On the tenor and soprano sax, I regard Noel Jewkes at the level of the famous Joe Lovano; Noel Jewkes is a master. He’s not a youngster, but he plays as if he is Duke Ellington and all the greats rolled into one. And eight years ago, BluePort put out the first recording of the now famous singer Jackie Ryan, whose newest albums all go up to number one on the Billboard chart.”
BluePort’s next album will showcase Grammy-nominated pianist, Geoffrey Keezer, with the great Peter Sprague on guitar. “They came to me because they have a new band, and wanted me to record a live performance,” Merod enthused about what promises to be a killer recording.
House of Linn, a UK-based Linn Audio specialty retailer that claims to be the biggest Linn dealership in Europe, is owned and operated by two former members of Linn’s senior staff, Brian Morris and Trevor Liddle. Their hi-rez FLAC downloads of jazz and progressive rock complement Linn Records’ own large selection of jazz, classical, and other genre downloads, available through www.linnrecords.com. With download formats that range from 320kbps MP3 to CD-quality and hi-rez FLAC and WMA, Linn Records also features superb hi-rez downloads from the Southern California label Yarlung Records, Channel Classics, and several independent jazz labels.
Speaking of independent labels, Hyperion Records has joined the fast-growing ranks of labels offering classical MP3 and hi-rez FLAC downloads. Its expanding collection of downloadable titles from the Hyperion and Helios labels is still limited, but includes recordings by stellar artists such as pianist Angela Hewitt, cellist Daniel Müller-Schott, and early-music soprano Emma Kirkby.
For other classical music from independent labels, be sure to explore Chandos Records’ Classical Shop. Their extensive catalog offers MP3, CD-quality, and hi-rez downloads from Chandos, Signum, Avie, Coro, Deux-Elles, and more than 50 other labels. In addition, hi-rez jazz, classical, rock, and pop downloads from a huge number of other independent labels may be found at the Chesky brothers’ HDtracks, here in the US.