Out of Montreal… and Beyondby Marc Chénard
/ November 1, 2000
Three years ago, I was thinking about changing my career plan,"
states Alain Bédard, the founder of the fledging Montréal jazz label, Effendi
Records, "so after having worked as a performer for more than a decade, I took a
job as a soundman in a club that was doing a lot of jazz acts. I kept meeting
musicians who were shopping around recordings, but there just seemed to be no
interest from the local labels. The musicians encouraged me to start up a label
that could finally give a voice to a whole segment of the jazz community."
In the year and a half since its inception, Effendi now sports 14 titles in
its catalogue, a remarkable growth considering the limited market for jazz
music, and they are homegrown products at that. Though the
bassist-turned-producer recognizes that part of his success is due to a national
distribution deal, most sales are still made in Québec.
"At this time we are gaining more exposure in the rest of Canada," Bédard is
quick to add, "and one of our artists, saxophonist Christine Jensen, sold a lot
of recordings during her recently completed cross-Canada tour. In fact, we had
to ship her a couple of boxes of CDs during her trip, and we’re even down to our
last box." Pretty impressive, when one considers that this release first hit the
market a mere five months ago.
Of the remaining titles, tenor saxophonist Yannick Rieu’s disc "Little Zab"
tops the list with some 1600 copies sold. Once again a cross-Canada jazz
festival tour last summer helped both the artist and his label reach a wider
Although Bédard basically runs the operation with his partner Carole
Therrien, he also makes it clear that Effendi is an artists’ collective in
which the musicians enjoy the freedom to create their own music unhindered by a
producer’s directives. "But we have our criteria, too," the partners emphasize,
"because we definitely want a more acoustic sound than an electronic one. This
doesn’t mean that electric instruments are automatically excluded; as long as
there is a balance between both types of instruments, we go along with
Much remains to be done, especially when it comes to increasing Effendi’s
visibility beyond Québec’s borders. There is interest abroad, particularly in
France where expatriate Yannick Rieu has been drawing notices in that country’s
jazz publications. Inquiries have also been flowing in from European and
"It’s definitely in my plans to travel to France soon," Bédard says, "because
one company in particular has expressed interest in distributing Yannick’s
record. I would also like to get international talent working with people here
in Canada, that’s where I see our future. In the meantime we have two local
projects now in the can and four more we are committed to. Down the road we’re
looking at some exciting and even crazy ideas, but we’re not rushing things too
much at this time."
As is the case with most labels, Effendi is online with its own user-friendly
website, complete with soundbytes, bios, and all. "This is a cottage industry,
so we do everything, but it would be nice to have somebody take care of our
site," the partners say. "When we started, we didn’t foresee all that had to be
done. It’s been our experience that things just grew beyond expectations.