Label Feature: Session Work Records

Christoph Pepe Auer is known as a musician who likes to take risks. Disappointed by the insufficient and unsatisfactory label landscape in the area of creative contemporary jazz and improvised music, the bass clarinettist took matters into his own hands and founded his own label Session Work Records in 2007. Initially only intended for his own music releases, Christoph Pepe Auer soon also signed other musicians. In the sixth year of its existence, the label has established itself as one of the most important labels in the field of Austrian jazz.

Mainly young representatives of the stylistically sprawling Austrian jazz scene find their musical home base at Session Work Records. The bass clarinetist, whose releases are difficult to be assigned to one single category, tries to render his own open-minded musical understanding as the superior program. As in his own music, the bass clarinettist defys traditional style descriptions in the selection of musicians and bands. Session Work Records is a platform that follows musical paths outside the box of traditional conventions.

The idea for his own label originated in 2006 as a part of numerous sessions with New York musicians. This orientation, the merging of different cultural approaches and the inclusion of different musical ideas still has its effect today. Openness, the joy of experimentation, no fear of new ideas, the courage to cross boundaries, and a cosmopolitan attitude serve as landmarks. It is important for Christoph Pepe Auer to keep the catalog of his label as versatile as possible. As the label’s boss, the bass clarinettist does not want to establish a special sound. He rather wants to support groups of artists with certain relations. In addition, he is not primarily interested in the commercial success of an album, but in the high quality and the innovative power of music. Unlike many major labels, Christoph Pepe Auer gives “his” artists enough space to creatively express themselves and enough time to realize their own visions.

A glance at the names of the musicians and ensembles released on Session Work Records clearly underlines Auer’s complex understanding of music. Besides his own style-varied released, it is, among others, his friend Manu Delago, who amazes with innovative and high-quality productions in the fields of jazz, world and pop music.

Whoever prefers more experimental and avant-garde music, is well served with the music of the quartet Phoen, friends of sophisticated singer/songwriter sounds with music from Julia Noah Fischer. Jazz in its purest form, with a high proportion of improvisation, is played by drummer Peter Kronreif. Classy big-band sounds are offered by the Jazz Orchestra Vorarlberg. Elements of Alpine sound tradition wrapped in the jazz context can be heard by Felician Honsig-Erlenburg. Furthermore, the legendary guitarist Karl Ritter released his highly acclaimed album “Weiße Wände” on Session Work Records.

Although in recent years, a very fresh and lively jazz scene has been establishing itself in Austria , which is also recognized internationally, there are still only a few platforms that carry this positive development. Fortunately there are people like Christoph Pepe Auer, who are not discouraged by this fact and try to enthusiastically change things for the better. In this case – with success.
Michael Ternai
translated from German