When Jacaranda Music launched its new record label in February, it didn’t know it would be canceling a concert two weeks later. What was a long-held goal for the Santa Monica-based concert series — polishing and producing years’ worth of live recordings —took on serious new meaning. Now, in April, the top of Jacaranda’s website isn’t a link to an upcoming concert; it’s Jacaranda Live Recordings. “In the era of COVID-19, our website is Jacaranda Music,” said Artistic and Executive Director Patrick Scott. In lieu of live performances, those recordings might be the next best thing.
The first two releases from Jacaranda Live Recordings captured the series’ mission: to champion overlooked modern music. Two works by Julius Eastman, from performances in 2018 and 2019, feature on Rebellious, another contribution to the revival around Eastman’s music. A Charged Embrace spotlights living, local (L.A.-based) composers: William Kraft, Bruce Broughton, and Veronika Krausas. Both albums are available digitally and as hard copies.
Going forward, Jacaranda Live Recordings has a certain flexibility. What’s next isn’t a matter of choosing what to record (Jacaranda has an archive of more than 100 concert recordings to draw on) but of choosing what to produce. Scott and his staff are experimenting with how to engage their audience in this process. Right now, the idea is to send out a survey that links to a playlist with excerpts from potential next-releases; listeners can respond with what they’d like to hear and what they’d be willing to buy, also taking into account Jacaranda’s vast (and well cataloged!) program history.
Whether it was always the plan for Jacaranda Live Recordings or not, this crowdsourcing of audience interest, at a time when live concerts are canceled, is a way to keep the connection between musicians and audiences. And with some enthusiasm, new recordings are sure to come.