By Jason Weiss
In 1964, Bernard Stollman introduced the autonomous checklist label ESP-Disk’ in manhattan urban to record the loose jazz circulation there. A bare-bones firm, ESP was once within the correct position on the correct time, generating albums through artists like Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders, and sunlight Ra, in addition to folk-rock bands just like the Fugs and Pearls earlier than Swine. however the label quick bumped into problems and, as a result of the politically subversive nature of a few productions and sloppy company practices, it folded in 1974. Always in Trouble tells the tale of ESP-Disk’ via a mess of voices—first Stollman’s, as he recounts the unbelievable lifetime of the label, after which the voices of the various artists concerned.
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Extra info for Always in Trouble: An Oral History of ESP-Disk', the Most Outrageous Record Label in America
That is no wa y to run a b usiness, if y ou look at it as a business. If you look at it as something different—as a co mmitment, a callin g, a n obs ession—no, I didn ’t make mistakes. To regard it as a b usiness would have been preposterous. ESP planted seeds that might yield a harvest in a year, ten years, or thirty years. How 34 wh a t g o t i n t o h is h e a d does one derive a livelihood in this manner? I wasn’t married; I didn’t have the normal concerns about getting married and having children and assuming the responsibility to support a fa mily.
I went to Dave Sarser, a remarkable engineer and a friend. At his studio, I met Ralph Ellison, author of Invisible M an, a nd H orace P arlan, t he gifted p ianist. D avid co mpressed t he track; the distortion disappeared and the bass s ounded normal. I brought the tape to Ornette. He paid for the engineering work and asked to borrow the tape. I gave it to him. During that period, in August 1964, Bud Powell returned to America with Francis Paudras. Francis and I had corresponded regarding Bud.
They trusted me. The newspaper’s editors asked me to do a record that would help finance the paper. They brought the artists to the session. When did you first become aware of errors or faults in your handling of the label as a business? I knew from the start that I was w oefully incompetent and not suited to deal with both the creative side and the business administration side. I never saw it as a business. It is rare that one can wear two heads. Some artists have phenomenal b usiness ac umen, b ut most ha ve o ne o rientation o r t he o ther.
Always in Trouble: An Oral History of ESP-Disk', the Most Outrageous Record Label in America by Jason Weiss