It’s 2014: the year of Cuneiform’s 30th anniversary. It’s been a full 3 decades since we released our first album - R. Stevie Moore’s What’s the Point? in May 1984 (on vinyl, of course; those were ancient times, an age BCd [Before CD] and pre-internet) - and yes, what a long, strange, and wondrous journey it's been. Under the leadership of Steve Feigenbaum, we’ve built a record label focusing on a world of music outside the mainstream, music unafraid to progress beyond “accepted” forms, boldly defying genre and pre-existing norms. We’ve released over 370 discs that astound, astonish, and delight, by innovative, visionary artists from around the world. And we’ve worked hard to disseminate our discoveries: getting discs of cutting-edge, avant garde music into stores, magazines and radio stations worldwide to serve existing fans and cultivate new audiences worldwide. As the world’s changed, we’ve evolved, continually shifting methods and means of promotion and distribution while continuing to release music on the sonic edge of jazz, rock, electronic, classical and post-genre.
The fire that continues to fuel our soul and keep us progressing in today’s grim economy is the spectacular music that our artists create, sometimes despite adverse conditions. One of the most inspiring artists on Cuneiform is Belgian composer/ guitarist/ keyboardist Roger Trigaux, whose compositions fuse rock’s power, jazz’s improvisation and 20th century classical music’s sophistication. 40 years ago, Trigaux co-founded Univers Zero with Daniel Denis, leaving UZ in 1979 after the release of Heresie to form his own group, Present. Today, Trigaux is a guiding light for the modern Rock in Opposition movement's fans, composing and recording new music for Present, which performs at France’s annual R.I.O. fest and at other festivals worldwide. Present’s music is today gaining recognition as some of post-classical music’s most innovative compositions. Cuneiform’s Winter 2014 releases include remastered versions of Present’s first two albums, Triskaidekaphobie and Le Poison Qui Rend Fou, supplemented with previously unreleased live performances and an extensive booklet, casting new light on the band’s early years and late 20th century Belgian music.
Besides the Present releases featuring Trigaux on guitar, several other Cuneiform Winter 2014 releases also spotlight some of the globe’s most astounding guitarists. Cuneiform is releasing self-titled, debut albums by two groups, Ecstasy and Thumbscrew, which are composed of some of jazz’s most respected and adventurous musicians. Guitarist/composer Raoul Björkenheim leads Ecstasy, a jazz group featuring some of Finland’s brightest stars. And guitarist/composer Mary Halvorson is a member, alongside bassist/composer Michael Formanek and drummer/composer Tomas Fujiwara, of the American jazz cooperative trio, Thumbscrew.
Last but not least, Cuneiform’s 2014 Winter releases include a double-disc release by The Ed Palermo Big Band called Oh No! Not Jazz!!, which features Palermo’s original music and his Zappa arrangements. Ed Palermo should serve as an inspiration to all of us in today's music biz: a true independent soul, he leads a 19-piece jazz big band in the U.S. despite the American economy being the worst since the Great Depression; creates big-band jazz arrangements of Zappa tunes under sometimes adverse conditions; and supports a family that's prone to cry out “Oh No! Not Jazz!!” when he attempts to listen to music. Despite all this, he carries on.
So do we all. We have a vision that we’re committed to. And we’re stubborn and strong willed, determined to master music's brave, new, post-digital world. And we have the help of YOU, our dear friends in music. Let's progress onward, for more decades to come!
If you’d like to interview Cuneiform about our 30 years in the front lines of non-mainstream music, please do drop us a line.