Cellar Music Group Celebrates 20th Anniversary with New Album Releases, Exciting New Initiatives and Strategic Partnerships
The Vancouver, BC-based label joins forces with the SmallsLIVE Foundation and American Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt on new initiatives; announces branded streaming playlists, a crowd-funding campaign and a plethora of new album releases.
Cellar Music Group, the award-winning jazz record label based in Vancouver, B.C., is preparing for a banner year as it celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2021. This year-long celebration will showcase the label’s exceptional musical output and highlight the milestone albums, artists and songs that have shaped Cellar Music Group into one of the most potent labels on the contemporary jazz scene. To mark the vicennial, the label is thrilled to announce a full slate of new releases, two impactful partnerships with the likes of The SmallsLIVE Foundation and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, a branded playlist series with Spotify, and a community-driven fundraising campaign.
Founded in 2001 by tenor saxophonist and impresario Cory Weeds, Cellar Music Group has amassed an impressive catalogue of over 200 recordings including works from jazz masters such as Harold Mabern, Louis Hayes, Charles McPherson and David “Fathead” Newman, critically acclaimed contemporaries like Jeb Patton and Metalwood, and fast-rising talents Emmet Cohen, Daniel Hersog, Sam Dillon, Champion Fulton and Miki Yamanaka, among others. The label first came to be when Weeds started rolling the tape at his Vancouver venue Cellar Jazz Club, which operated from 2000 until 2014. The label soon grew to include studio recordings, and eventually went on to add archival releases to its potent roster, released under the imprint Reel to Real. “I have always joked that I’ve been trying to put the label out of business for twenty years but it just won’t go away,” says founder Weeds, adding, “I am so proud of what we have accomplished over these past two decades. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.”
Inspired by the tumultuous events of the past year, Cellar Music Group has partnered with two major jazz forces on a set of topical and important initiatives. The first is a collaboration with American trumpeter Jeremy Pelt designed to showcase the voices of Black artists. Cellar Music Group has committed to raising funds for, and then releasing three albums led by Black artists within the next 12 months. Pelt will produce the projects, and the artist will be provided with touring opportunities that will include performances, clinics and masterclasses. The label will also make a monetary contribution to a Black-led charity of the artists’ choice. Forthcoming releases under this banner include trumpeter Bruce Harris’ Soundview on June 4th and in the Fall, singer-saxophonist Michael Stephenson’s project with bassist Alex Claffy as well as a new release from pianist Anthony Wonsey.
“Jazz has always reflected the times. Sadly, we are once again bearing witness to the racial injustice in the United States, wherein Black people’s lives are constantly at risk, particularly by those sworn to protect its citizens. The Cellar Music Group recognizes that Jazz is not only a music native to America, but that the progenitors of this music are the very lives that are being threatened daily. This initiative began in the spirit of allyship and to amplify Black voices and their stories,” says Weeds.
The second notable partnership is with The SmallsLIVE Foundation, which is dedicated to the creation and propagation of jazz music in New York City through recording, live streaming, archiving, educational initiatives and live performances. Through this new collaboration, Cellar Music Group will release recorded works specially commissioned by The SmallsLIVE Foundation. The first of these releases is a trio date led by foundation founder, and owner of clubs Smalls and Mezzrow Spike Wilner entitled Aliens and Wizards. Set for release on April 23, this intimate new album was recorded at the height of the pandemic and the resulting music is raw, poignant and beautiful. “This is as much of a working trio as you can get these days, and their camaraderie and musical kinship is obvious from the first downbeat,” says Weeds.
Cellar Music Group plans to release a total of 15 albums this year from an exciting variety of widely-acclaimed jazz artists. In addition to the aforementioned releases, the coming months boast offerings from Chicago-based vocalist Alyssa Allgood, who will release her third album What Tomorrow Brings on April 9th; powerhouse vocalist Dee Daniels, who will be releasing a deluxe edition of her award-winning album The Promise on May 7th; and Calgary-based vocalist Angela Wrigley, whose You Don’t Know What Love Is is due out on June 18th. Weeds, who has already released a new project this year entitled O sole mio, will release a stirring new project with saxophonist/pianist/arranger Phil Dwyer + strings in September entitled What is There to Say?
While the label will be presenting an extraordinary array of new music this year, Cellar Music Group will also celebrate its vast back catalogue with a series of lifestyle-oriented branded playlists. Curated by Weeds and Cellar Music Group marketing manager Scott Morin to celebrate the 20th Anniversary, this series of themed compilations on Spotify features original art design from famed abstract artist Lori Popadiuk. A new themed playlist will launch every month from February through November and each playlist will feature 50 tracks from the label’s wide-ranging catalogue. The first playlist, Soulful Crushes, can be found here.
Finally, Cellar Music Group has launched a 20th Anniversary Fundraising Campaign. The COVID-19 crisis has wreaked havoc on the arts – and record labels are no exception. In an effort to ensure that Cellar Music Group can continue to provide world class jazz for another two decades, the label has organized a crowd-funding campaign with a $30,000 CAD goal. Currently, nearly half the funds have been raised. More information on the fundraising campaign can be found here.
Cellar Music Group looks forward to celebrating this exciting milestone with jazz fans around the globe. More information can be found at www.cellarlive.com.
Cellar Music Group Select Release Schedule:
Alyssa Allgood – What Tomorrow Brings – April 9, 2021
Spike Wilner Trio – Aliens and Wizards – April 23, 2021
Dee Daniels – The Promise – Deluxe Edition – May 7, 2021
Bruce Harris Quartet – Sound View – June 4, 2021
Angela Wrigley Trio – You Don’t Know What Love Is – June 18, 2021
Michael Stephenson & Alexander Claffy – Michael Stephenson Meets the Alexander Claffy Trio – September 17, 2021
Cory Weeds with Strings – What is There to Say? – September 3, 2021
(More releases to be announced throughout the year at www.cellarlive.com)