CHAT WITH BLACK SAINT AND SOUL NOTE FOUNDER, GIOVANNI BONANDRINI
It is easy for me to recommend the following recordings and I don't think
I am going out on a limb here when I say they are essential. They should
be readily available at your local record store and all over the internet
Enjoy the good listenings. 1. Billy Harper - Black Saint 2. Andrew Hill
- Shades 3. Roswell Rudd/Steve Lacy/Misha Mengelberg/Kent Carter/Han Bennink
- Regeneration 4. Max Roach/Anthony Braxton - Birth and Rebirth 5. Muhal
Richard Abrams - The Hearinga Suite 6. David Murray - Ming 7. World Saxophone
Quartet - Revue 8. Don Pullen - The Sixth Sense 9. John Carter - Dauhwe
10. Don Cherry/Dewey Redman/Charlie Haden/Ed Blackwell - Old and New Dreams
JUNG: Let's start from the beginning.
BONANDRINI: It was in 1945 and then later in 1948, I bought my first records,
78 RPM of American jazz: Armstrong, Ellington, Gillespie, Count Basie,
When did you decide to form the Black Saint label?
BONANDRINI: In 1977, Hi-Fi & Record Center, of which I was partner and
President, decided to take over Black Saint Records. At that time there
were 13 records in the catalog.
What year was Soul Note formed and how is it different from the Black
BONANDRINI: Soul Note started in 1979. I decided to do so because at that
time the producer of Black Saint wanted to record only avant-garde. I
did not think that we should only record avant-garde but to present also
a larger view.
Billy Harper's album is titled Black Saint and that was the initial album
that the label was released, your thoughts on the album.
BONANDRINI: Billy Harper made not only the first album on Black Saint
but also the first one on Soul Note. I have great consideration for this
artist, who is so underrated and underrecorded and I do think that his
album on Black Saint is to be considered one of his best records.
Black Saint and Soul Note has been crucial in showcasing both American
and European artists, especially great Italian artists, who in your opinion
have been some of the markee artists that have been on your label?
BONANDRINI: On Black Saint, I would say Billy Harper, Old and New Dreams,
David Murray, Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake, Muhal Richard Abrams, Henry
Threadgill, Hamiet Bluiett, World Saxophone Quartet, Larry Ochs, Anthony
Braxton, Glenn Spearman, and Sun Ra. On Soul Note: Archie Shepp, Max Roach,
George Russell, Cecil Taylor, Steve Lacy, Jaki Byard, Borah Bergman, Herbie
Nichols Project, Dave Douglas, Gaslini, Pieranunzi, Trovesi, Rava, Art
Blakey, Jon Jang, Mal Waldron, and Charlie Haden. There are many others
but the point is that I love all of them.
Do Black Saint and Soul Note have a mission statement?
BONANDRINI: What we are doing it's important mainly for the artists and
we are proud for keeping all of their recordings still in print. The point
is that most jazz major labels are unfortunately no longer independent
because they are owned by the majors for which jazz is only business.
How extensive is the Black Saint/Soul Note catalog?
BONANDRINI: By now we have more than 500 recordings.
All of the Black Saint and Soul Note titles are still in print, when most
major labels have the majority of their catalog out of print. How important
has it been to keep these titles, not only available for your artists,
but also for the public?
BONANDRINI: It's simply a mission. Luckily our labels are up to now in
our hands, the hands of people who love jazz.
How many records are you releasing on average per year?
BONANDRINI: Right now, in order to stay in business we have been forced
to reduce our yearly output to no more than twelve to fifteen new releases.
Is your marketing different in Europe and Japan than it is for the States?
BONANDRINI: The concept is basically the same with the only difference
that in the States is you must act more aggressively.
Are sales better in Europe, Japan, or America?
BONANDRINI: We do forty-five percent of our business in Europe, forty
percent in North America and fifteen percent in the Far East. The point
is that while we may speak of net sales for Europe and Far East, we cannot
say the same for North America because of the returns policy.
With the development of the internet, has Black Saint and Soul Note been
able to capture that developing audience with its own online relationships?
BONANDRINI: We are working very hard on that building a new web site which
very soon will allow us to have online sales and many other interesting
Jung is the Editor-In-Chief. Comments? Email