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Label Watch: Aleph Records

Lalo Schifrin

Artist-run record labels, an important footnote in jazz history, are a seductive, dangerous business, often destined to fly, fail, or both. The problems encountered usually revert back to the truism that musicians aren’t always business people by nature, and the fact that the record distribution machinery can be an ornery beast. But, in the late ’90s, there’s a new, hopeful aspect to the entrepreneurial equation: the internet. One artist who has plunged into this new, flexible realm of marketing is veteran pianist-composer Lalo Schifrin, who has launched Aleph Records, on the web ( Schifrin, who started the label this year and already has several releases on the roster, asserted that “the technology has offered us an opportunity and we should take it.”

The label’s first releases trace Schifrin’s own legendary root systems. The big band suite called “Gillespiana,” recorded with the WDR big band in Cologne recently, was written in 1960, soon after Dizzy Gillespie first invited the Argentinian Schifrin to the United States. At the time, he was a young prodigy who had studied classical music in Paris, while simultaneously honing his considerable jazz chops. Another new release is called Film Classics, featuring Schifrin’s arrangements of classic film themes. Schifrin’s own extensive film and television scoring career includes the signature Mission: Impossible theme and Bullitt.

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