History of the Label

SLAM independent CD label was founded by GEORGE HASLAMin 1989, now a unique and extensive source of contemporary music recognised around the world.

George explains how it came into being:

'In 1989 I decided to record some solo improvisations on baritone sax - I had previously made a couple of LPs on Tony Williams' "Spotlite" label but the improvised music would be outside the recognized field of Spotlite. With advice from 1 or 2 small label owners - notably Eddie Prevost (Matchless) - I decided to do it myself. In the event I made the CD with Paul Rutherford, solo tracks by each of us and duo tracks. The CD was called "1989 - And All That" and I used the name SLAM. The following year I played a wonderful concert in the Holywell Music Room, Oxford, with Paul, Lol Coxhill and Howard Riley. It was recorded and released as a second CD. A little later Howard came to me with a great recording by the quartet he was co-leading with Elton Dean and he asked if I may be interested in releasing it on "my label" - that was the first time I thought of it as a label.

During the next decade the catalogue took shape, centering on the British free jazz scene of the 1990s, including lesser-known practitioners from various parts of the country and a good percentage of women artists. Obviously there is a large section occupying my own recordings - that was the original purpose of the label; I have tried to include recordings made in different countries I have visited, with musicians from those countries. The final section is recordings by foreign artists, including some major names - Max Roach, Mal Waldron, Steve Lacy, Jaki Byard, Roswell Rudd - whom I have had opportunities to know - and some the honour to play with.  This section of the catalogue has expanded significantly, with recordings from Italy, Serbia, Finland, USA, Switzerland, Russia, Cuba, Argentina, Estonia, Ukraine, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Mexico, Chile, Ireland, Greece and more countries.

For any successful germination the right conditions must come together - artists, venues, support... and recording experts. In Oxford were 2 of the greatest, Michael Gerzon and Tim Turan. Sadly Michael is no longer with us but Tim has worked on many of our releases. Eric Smith of Monstersound Studios has also been responsible for recording, mixing and mastering many of the UK based discs.

The record scene has changed during recent years - recording and duplicating CDs is easy, most musicians are making some to sell on gigs. The difficulty is beyond that level - distribution and sales. Major labels are geared up for that - they deal only with music they think will sell in large quantities.

SLAM comes in the area between these extremes. Once a project is agreed, musicians have full control of the production of the recording and artwork - as in a ‘self-release’ - SLAM manages production, pressing, sales, distribution and a certain amount of promotion. In many cases most sales may still be on gigs but the CD has the benefit of reviews, possible airplay and distribution at home and abroad - and, of course, the strength of the mighty SLAM publicity machine.

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