By Jason Weiss
In 1964, Bernard Stollman introduced the self sustaining list label ESP-Disk’ in long island urban to rfile the unfastened jazz move there. A bare-bones company, ESP used to be within the correct position on the correct time, generating albums by way of artists like Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders, and sunlight Ra, in addition to folk-rock bands just like the Fugs and Pearls sooner than Swine. however the label fast bumped into problems and, as a result of politically subversive nature of a few productions and sloppy enterprise 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 inconceivable lifetime of the label, after which the voices of a few of the artists concerned.
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Additional info for Always in Trouble: An Oral History of ESP-Disk', the Most Outrageous Record Label in America
24 wha t g o t i n t o h is h e a d The covers and liners for Spiritual Unity, [Ayler’s] Bells, and Pharoah Sanders Quintet were Jordan Matthews’s concepts. I decided t hat silk-screening them would have a primal quality, suitable for ESP. I personally silk-screened the first Bells LPs. Howard and I found each other again recently after thirty-five years. Howard did the graphics for Ayler’s Spiritual Unity, the Byron Allen Trio, for the Giuseppi L ogan alb ums [ The G iuseppi Loga n Qua rtet; More], t he H oly Modal Rounders [Indian War W hoop], very phantasmagorical.
I was naive, and my responses were totally spontaneous. I was just providing legal services for people in that sector of music. So, if you were not an aficionado, what kept you going in that realm of music and law? The artists I enco untered in t he so-called jazz s ector were serious composers and performers. They conducted themselves with dignity, reserve, and integrity. They were profound philosophers and articulate; I had and still have great respect for them. Music and Law 15 Around 1963 Stollman persuaded his parents to buy a large co-op apartment at 180 Riverside Drive on the Upper West Side.
We attracted college student reps at s everal s chools. We gave t hem LPs, and they helped us t o get publicity on college radio. There was li ttle els e t hat we could do, because commercial radio would not play us, and this remains true today. We were a w ell-kept secret, except to a f ew jazz p ublications and some exposure in the Village Voice and underground newspapers like the East Village Other. 28 wha t g o t i n t o h is h e a d 4 While It Worked After that initial flood of releases from ESP, the dozen titles that came out in September 1965, the label released forty-five more titles over the next eighteen months.