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Established in Vancouver 1992, Songlines produces modern and avant jazz that typically crosses musical borders (with contemporary classical, rock, non-western folk and classical musics, ambient, etc.) and contemporary world music, usually with an Asian component (Arabic and Persian music, Javanese gamelan), featuring artists based in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. The term “songlines” refers to Australian aboriginal performances of song and dance in which tales of the ancestral creator beings are enacted in the very places where those events unfold in the now-and-always Dreamtime. This idea of a deep-roots musical storytelling journey crisscrossing one’s home turf seemed to offer a kind of metaphor for music in our globalizing world that forges imaginative new paths through different cultures and traditions without sacrificing the depth of those traditions themselves.
From 2001 to 2009 almost all Songlines’ releases were hybrid SACDs (50 in all), mostly mixed in stereo and multichannel. These and all releases since are available as 24-bit stereo downloads, and some of the SACD projects as DSD downloads. Special SACD projects include a Nick Drake tribute record and music by Bill Frisell inspired by Gerhard Richter paintings.
Since 1997 Songlines has worked closely with pianist/keyboardist Benoît Delbecq (winner of the 2010 Grand Prix International du Disque for jazz), including the collectives Kartet and Poolplayers, duos with François Houle and Andy Milne and a double trio with Fred Hersch. Other prominent artists with releases on Songlines include Wayne Horvitz, Robin Holcomb, The Westerlies, Ben Monder, Theo Bleckmann, Dave Douglas, Han Bennink, Misha Mengelberg, Samuel Blaser, Brad Shepik, Peter Epstein, Michael Blake, Chris Speed, Patrick Zimmerli, Tony Malaby, Jerry Granelli, Ellery Eskelin, Marty Ehrlich, Gordon Grdina, Gary Peacock, Paul Motian, Dylan van der Schyff, Harris Eisenstadt, and the late Jean-Jacques Avenel. They’ve also worked with many young artists deserving wider recognition.