By Don Heckman
The Italian-based labels Black Saint and Soul Note were seminal sources of cutting edge jazz in the seventies and eighties. Established in 1975, the companies spent the next thirty years chronicling the work of artists such as Cecil Taylor, Dave Douglas, Charlie Haden, Andrew Hill, Anthony Braxton and the World Saxophone Quartet, among numerous other out-of-the-box artists. In 2008 both catalogs were acquired by CAM Jazz (Creazioni Artistiche Musicali), a Rome-based label dedicated to “releasing vintage jazz recordings from an immense repertoire and producing new jazz-style recordings consisting of both original compositions as well as cover versions of memorable film themes, musicals and songs.”
But the big news is that CAM Jazz has just announced that the complete catalogs from both Black Saint and Soul Note have been leased to eMusic (http://www.emusic.com). So, for the first time ever, this extraordinary catalog of music will be available for digital download — exclusively on eMusic for the next two months. Among the musically significant items included in the catalog: “Parallel Worlds,” by Dave Douglas; “Etudes” by Charlie Haden with Paul Motian; “For Olim” by Cecil Taylor; “To Them-To Us” by Jaki Byard; “Eugene 1989” by Anthony Braxton and “Trickles” by Steve Lacy, Roswell Rudd, Kent Carter and Beaver Harris.
Material from Black Saint and Soul Note hasn’t always been easy to find — even when it was initially released, and even less so, today. Which makes its availability on eMusic especially appealing. To help guide listeners in the right direction, eMusic has created a guide to the catalogs, including commentary from a number of expert eMusic jazz contributors. The guide can be accessed at Black Saint/Soul Note Essentials.