[JPL] Jazz label Zoho zeroes in on edgy fare

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Sun Mar 4 12:01:58 EST 2007


http://today.reuters.com/news/ArticleNews.aspx?type=musicNews&storyID=2007-0
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Jazz label Zoho zeroes in on edgy fare

Fri Mar 2, 2007 11:29 PM ET

By Dan Ouellette

NEW YORK (Billboard) - This year's Grammy Awards tabulations reveal again,
especially in jazz, that David-like lean slays Goliath-like bulk. Case in
point: the upstart Zoho Music label, which boasted two nominations in the
Latin jazz category.

When Joachim "Jochen" Becker submitted four albums from his Zoho catalog to
the Recording Academy for Grammy consideration, he figured the final release
by the late conguero master Ray Barretto, "Standards Rican-ditioned," would
be "a slam-dunk." Becker said, "It was our biggest seller, and because of
Ray's fame, I figured it would be a clear contender. But instead they chose
two guys whose music brushes against the grain."

Both Zoho nominees in the best Latin jazz album category -- drummer Dafnis
Prieto's "Absolute Quintet" and pianist Edsel Gomez's "Cubist Music" --
failed to win a Grammy ("Simpatico" by the Brian Lynch/Eddie Palmieri
Project on ArtistShare did). But it was still an enviable achievement for
the micro-indie that was founded in 2003.

"I was thrilled at the recognition," Becker said. "The music of both Dafnis
and Edsel falls outside the jazz-radio mainstream. Their music is more edgy
and angular than most Latin jazz, but the Grammy nods acknowledge that they
are major innovators."

Zoho did score a Grammy this year on its blues/rock imprint Zoho Roots for
the Ike Turner release "Risin' With the Blues" in the best traditional blues
album category. Zoho also hit Latin Grammy pay dirt in 2005 in the tango
category for Argentine pianist Pablo Ziegler's "Bajo Cero."

Zoho's history stands as another independent-label success story in the face
of dwindling major-label support for adventurous jazz, whether it's steeped
in Latin or soars beyond the straight-ahead.

"We're creating homes for artists that are untrammeled by corporate
buyouts," Becker said.

Beyond its prime mission -- to offer music with an urban New York Latin jazz
vibe -- Zoho has spread its purview to include jazz artists who don't fall
in that category. Saxophonist Dave Liebman has recorded three Zoho discs,
while the label's latest release, due March 13, is guitarist Dave Stryker
and saxophonist Steve Slagle's new Stryker/Slagle Band CD, "Latest Outlook."

Reuters/Billboard

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