Sunnyside 25th Anniversary
Sunnyside Records was founded in 1982 by ex-IBM employee Francois Zalacain, who names Jean-Jacques Pussiau and his Owl record label as major inspirations. Zalacain pinpoints the inception of Sunnyside to a duo album he recorded for Harold Danko and Rufus Reid in 1982, followed by albums for Kirk Lightsey, Lee Konitz and hundreds since. Zalacain proudly states that he operates what he calls "a relaxed independent label" with "an acceptance of any jazz style" and "no binding contracts" as well as "no specific mission." What stands out when you look through Sunnyside's extensive catalog is the diversity of styles and nationalities. Certainly the dominant mode on Sunnyside 25th Anniversary album is contemporary jazz by gifted improvisers like Lee Konitz, Eddie Higgins, Rufus Reid, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Billy Pierce and Fred Hersch, along with various European musicians who often do not show up on the cultural radar in the United States of America. But there is also a marvelous vocal performance by Grammy nominated Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza, and an invigorating Latin jazz workout by Jerry Gonzalez. A truly representative sampler of Sunnyside's range of styles and genres would require several discs, for Zalacain has issued recordings by Clifton Chenier, Furry Lewis, the Wild Magnolias, Memphis Slim and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. The label's roster also contains the names of Charles Mingus, Astor Piazzolla, Oregon, Enrico Rava, Jimmy Giuffre, Stéphane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt, Nina Simone, Martial Solal, Steve Lacy, Roswell Rudd, Tony Scott, Bob Mintzer, Paquito D'Rivera, Famoudou Don Moye, Gil Evans, Paul Motian, Avishai Cohen, Red Mitchell, Chris Potter, Ron Blake and the divine vocalist Jeanne Lee. This little 25th Anniversary taste barely begins to cover the magnitude and depth of Sunnyside Records. But it's a good way to get acquainted.