A little more than a year ago, the Hong Kong-based Naxos label moved its American headquarters from Pennsylvania to a location near CoolSprings Mall. Now entering its second decade of existence, Naxos has enjoyed, from very early on, remarkable international success. Yet this sprawling classical and jazz imprint remains unfamiliar to most ears, and a great many music buyers who pass by its displays at Tower Records on West End think of it as just another discount label.
It is indeed a low-cost label, selling discs at about half the price of Sony or Deutsche Gramophone. But the quality of its recordings, both in sound and in performance standards, has been garnering praise from prestigious critics for some time now. In fact, Naxos is the world’s classical music leader in number of new releases and in available unduplicated repertory.
Most recently, the label just received Gramophone magazine’s 1999 “Editor’s Choice Award” for its new 20th Century British Music series. This award is based on the number of monthly Editor’s Choices received by the series over the foregoing 15 months. In this case, 22 titles released between April 1998 and June 1999 counted toward the award. These titles, representing Britain’s best-known contemporary composers, have already sold more than 300,000 units worldwide.
This is good news for local classical music loversnot only because all Naxos recordings distributed in the U.S. are handled through the label’s Franklin offices, but also because Naxos is in the process of recording music by the Nashville Symphony and the Nashville Chamber Orchestra. A couple weeks ago, Naxos recorded our Symphony performing music by composer Howard Hanson, who’s probably about as well known across the country as the Nashville Symphonywhich is to say, not very.
But the Symphony rose to the occasion. And both Howard Hanson, whose music melds the richness of Brahms and the brilliance of Respighi, and the Nashville Symphony, who played that complex and difficult music very musically, have through Naxos perhaps a better chance of winning an audience than either has had before.
The Nashville Chamber Orchestra may have an advantage over the Nashville Symphony: NCO will record for Naxos the music of Aaron Copland, one of America’s best-known and most-respected composers. But both orchestras exemplify one of the reasons for Naxos’ success. Neither brandishes a big expensive reputation, though both make, at their best, world-class music. If the recordings turn out to be really good, they will have Naxos’ sound-quality and its international distribution system on their side. They may join a lot of other little-known ensembles making world-class music heard all around the world.
Platters that matter
Whaddaya do when you’re one of the world’s hottest deejays, but on your cross-country turntabling tour someone steals your stash of incredibly rare funk 45s? If you’re Cut Chemist, the SoCal turntable wizard from Ozomatli and the Jurassic 5, you hop on a plane to Nashville and do some serious funk-hunting.
As he was finishing up his tour with DJ Shadow in support of their “Brainfreeze” project, Cut Chemist had about 30 singles swiped from a Portland music venue three weeks agoa turn of events so depressing that he almost canceled his scheduled groove-hunting expedition down South. But DJ Egon from WRVU-91 Rock’s “911 Emergency” convinced him to come on down anyway two weeks ago.
The result? On a whim, Egon and Cut Chemist went down to Lower Broadway to Lawrence Bros. Record Shopand ended up spending seven hours sifting through the racks. The L.A.-based deejay even found some of the singles he was missing, including Reuben Bell’s “Superjock.” According to Egon, Cut Chemist was amazed. “[He kept] remarking on how that was truly one of the last great vinyl stores in the country,” Egon recalls, “and that he knew how great it would be when he walked in and the plain wood floor creaked.”
In the meantime, Cut Chemist is putting the finishing touches on the next Jurassic 5 LP, scheduled for January from Interscope. Sez Egon: “I would definitely expect him back soon!”
Block around the clock
Is Billy Block battling Howard Stern to become the King of All Media? Block’s alt.country Western Beat Roots Revival radio show is already broadcast on four separate Nashville stations, and his monthly magazine is picking up ads and articles. Now comes word that, starting in April 2000, the Western Beat Roots Revival is coming to CMT as an hour-long video/concert show to be taped at the Exit/In. With an initial commitment of 13 episodes, it’ll be the first cable music hour to come out of Nashville since Live at the Bluebird Cafe (which still can’t be seen here, because our local cable provider won’t carry the new TurnerSouth network).
If you see Block, offer him congratulationsboth on the show and on the arrival of son Grady William Block, 7 lbs., 4 oz., born Sept. 21. According to his proud papa, the kid is “currently touring with and dating Alecia Elliot and has a development deal with Mercury.”
Just so you know, you accidently put Scarlett's name instead of Juliette's under Glenn. I…
my girl and I hadn't been that much into all the TV shows when we…
I second the nomination of Richie Richington for sacrificial Tennessee lamb. And dammit, it sure…
Oh yeah! Wentworth Miller and his wife Sienna Miller. I think they're probably gone forever…
what about the richie couple? my money is on one of them - the wife?…