“It was a labor of love, that album,” said flutist Lori Bell, speaking from the second floor of her North Park studio. That album is Brooklyn Dreaming, which has earned a place in the top jazz recordings in both Downbeat magazine and Huffington Post’s “Best of 2016 Jazz Albums,” despite the fact that she severed ties with her record label and released it on her own. “It was a personal project, all about my family and my folks, so it’s sweet that it’s gotten some recognition.”
3 Deuce Blues
...by the Lori Bell Quartet
Making the record without label support involved some inherent risk. Bell had been hooked up with Resonance Records, which has released historical projects from Wes Montgomery and Bill Evans. Even though she recorded the project at their studio in Los Angeles, Bell decided to go her own way. “I wanted to do it on my own. We had different ideas about things — let’s just leave it at that....
“Making an album costs a lot of money,” Bell said. “I knew I needed help promoting it — any artist does — so for the first time in my career, I used a PR guy, Rob Evanoff. I felt really good about him. He’s not ‘slick.’ If you want to get in the bigger magazines, you need a PR guy to help you get your foot in the door.”
I asked her if the investment has resulted in more sales. “You know, jazz albums don’t really sell,” she laughed. “But I did notice that CD Baby has requested more copies than they ever have since I’ve been working with them, and I’m seeing a lot more hits on my website and getting more invitations to tour.”
In the meantime, Bell has students flocking to her studio. “They’re coming in droves. I have a wide range of students right now, from 9 years old to 70. I don’t want anymore because I need my practice time.”