Information deficit strikes again: “Centennial”

In a recent post that was pretty much a roundup of otherwise recommended young artist releases from recent months, in several cases I decried what I think would best be referred to as rampant information deficit. Just this morning I came across a less egregious example of this phenomenon in the age of DIY musician recordings, but some degree of deficit nonetheless. I think most who’ve heard it would agree that the Gil Evans Project “Centennial” (ArtistShare) release by arranger Ryan Truesdell is by all musical accounts one of the more notable large ensemble recordings released this year. In fact its safe to say that – musically-speaking – were it otherwise I wouldn’t even be taking note (as was definitely the case with that gang of a dozen young artist releases from last I.E. post).

But here’s the rub – and an issue which may in fact be shared by others of us who produce jazz programs for community and public radio stations. In many cases – and I have three similar personal experiences, at KFAI in Minneapolis, WWWOZ in New Orleans, and currently at WPFW in DC – programmers at such stations (which have become radio airplay lifeblood for jazz releases) bring music from their own collections to program. In many instances that I’ve witnessed, programmers eschew toting around CD jewel cases and bring their music selections to their programs in CD slipcases. (And yes, I’ve made this point previously but it continues to be worth mentioning because Information Deficit remains very real.) For those programmers so inclined, particularly those who endeavor to convey clear and accurate record information to our listeners, its always comforting when the most pertinent airplay information (leader name(s), album title, label name, and track listing) is posted not only on the jewel case or digipack, but also on the disc itself (yes, there I go again…), and if one is provided, at a glance in the accompanying CD booklet. And if you think I’m kidding, try juggling the responsibilities of running a broadcast board, taking listener-inquiry (or praise/complaint) studio calls, responding to assorted sudden station personnel needs, prepping the next scheduled PSA live read or cart, or news break, all while readying the next couple of sets and seeking the necessary information to convey to listeners. We’re talking one-armed paper hanger territory here!

So this morning I go to program “The Maids of Cadiz” and “Smoking My Sad Cigarette” from Ryan Truesdell’s “Centennial”. Thankfully this is one recent release with very clear and cogent artist-written notes; Truesdell has done a credible job of detailing the selections and his various musical motivations in his booklet essay. But taken as an individual entity, the booklet suffers a bit from Information Deficit, as handsome and informative as is its design and Truedell’s observations within. On the cover is what I suppose passes as an “artsy” image of Truesdell in full conductor-in-recording studio mode – with his back to the camera. Not exactly a household name, perhaps you’d have been better served with more of a portrait rendering Ryan. And speaking of Ryan, his name appears nowhere on the booklet cover! Again, this guy’s not exactly a household name. Opening the booklet… still no listing of the name Ryan Truesdell! OK Ryan, since you wrote the notes, try a byline next time. Reading on… and on… finally the name Ryan Truesdell appears at the end of the notes. The Information Deficit offense here? Making the assumption that readers/listeners/consumers know at all times that this is about RYAN TRUESDELL’s interpretation of “newly discovered” Gil Evans works. Yeah, I know this is about Gil’s music and influence, but so is much of Maria Schneider‘s output – in the spirit of Gil Evans that is – and we always know from her packaging who’s at the helm. Selflessness is not always the sole course Mr. Truesdell; and from the evidence you present here, folks need to know just who it is that unearthed these “newly discovered” Gil Evans’ works – throughout your package.

But all that Information Disparity nit-picking aside, get the music, this one is well worth hearing.

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