Following two successful volumes of ‘Journey Into Deep Jazz’ on BBE, proprietor of London’s ‘IF Music’ record store and walking musical encyclopedia Jean-Claude kicks off a new “Introduction To…” album series with this affectionate retrospective of sister labels Black Saint and Soul Note. Cited by some as Italy’s answer to Blue Note, Black Saint and Soul Note have together amassed a catalogue in excess of five hundred albums between 1975 and 2008. Founded by Giacomo Pellicciotti (producer of Enrico Rava’s seminal “Katcharpari” album), Black Saint scored a home run with it’s very first release: Billy Harper’s 1975 “Black Saint” LP, the follow-up to his much lauded “Capra Black” album on Strata-East. Following the blueprint laid down by iconic Italian jazz imprint Horo, Black Saint started life catching recording sessions with American artists as they passed through Italy on tour, as well as releasing Stateside recordings.
For nearly three years Black Saint released a plethora of jazz albums by the great and good of the Free-Jazz movement: Archie Shepp, Don Cherry, Oliver Lake, Muhal Richard Abrams, Malachi Favours and Hamiet Bluiett, to name but a few. At the same time, the label was struggling financially and a series of owners came and went in quick-fire succession. In 1978, the company was finally bought by Giovanni Bonandrini and his team, who by 1979 had launched a second label, the brilliant Soul Note. As Black Saint had done previously, the first release on the fledgling sister-label had to be another by Billy Harper. The two labels went onto enjoy much critical acclaim during the mid to late ‘80s, winning ‘The Down Beat Jazz Award’ from 1984 through to 1989. Even Sun Ra and his Arkestra got in on the act; his 1989 epic “Hours After” was released on Black Saint.
A snapshot of Black Saint and Soul Note’s first ten years, this album presents only the very choicest cuts, lovingly remastered to vinyl. If you’re already a fan of these labels, you should delight in Jean-Claude’s selections, while if you’ve never come across these jazz jewels from Lombardy / Italy, this compilation will surely blow you away.