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All those who have followed the activities of the firm harmonia mundi over the past fifty-four years know that our passion for jazz has long exceeded the framework of mere distribution and has been nourished within our 'house' labels. So much is obvious from the presence of musicians like Omara Portuondo and Chucho Valdes on World Village or a benchmark series like Jazz Characters on Le Chant du Monde. But until now it was sometimes hard to get a sense of editorial pertinence, since this process of synergy lacked a label resolutely, exclusively devoted to jazz.

But which jazz?

We have seen how thoroughly today's musicians have broken down the invisible barriers that used to separate repertories, in encounters that create a wealth of new connections. There is no compromise when each musician listens to and respects the other - quite the contrary, in fact. Far from the aberrations of crossover, jazz is more than ever at the heart of this evolution.

It is this diversity, this open-minded spirt that JazzVillage seeks to cultivate. And our intentions are already symbolised by the juxtaposition of our first two signings: Ahmad Jamal, the apostle of the new 'American Classical Music', and Sandra Nkake, a major figure of innovative urban contemporary. Their albums will be released in February-March 2012; from established artists to 'new talents' we strongly believe in, many other names will follow.

Ever since 1958, harmonia mundi has constantly explored new continents; limited to the organ repertory in the 'pioneering' years, our thirst for discovery then led us towards early music and 'period instruments', then to a different concept of today's music with World Village. Twenty years earlier, our colleagues of Le Chant du Monde had chosen other routes again; our shared paths have often met on the road that leads to swing.

So the birth of JazzVillage has not come about merely by chance; at a time when the financial crisis has caught up with a shaky economy, we are well aware that it may seem a pretty risky venture. But with Pascal Bussy, A&R manager of our two 'village labels', and the team newly assembled in this pool devoted to 'today's musics' we firmly intend to make it work. For the public attends concerts in greater numbers than ever; we have a wide range of physical and digital carriers on offer today; and, yes, imagination is back in the driving seat!

The record world is in a state of radical transformation. It may be an uphill task, but there will always be a jazz standard drifting through the air.


Posted: 6 January 2012 by Christian Girardin

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