JAZZ PHARMACY with DIRECTIONS at the Comfort Zone (480 Spadina), Friday (June 15). $10. 416-763-9139.
Eddie Cola could be considered one of the lucky ones. Instead of dealing with the bureaucracy of a record company, clawing for studio space and bowing to label demands, Cola works entirely on his own terms.
Since 1998, he's run his own studio and label, Sinistresound, with keyboardist Phil Clarke. Stocked with the gear and goodies to produce, it was in this environment that they devised their Amnesia debut album.
It's a fitting title for a group called Jazz Pharmacy, the Montreal-based jazzy improv quartet that mixed, created and marketed the recording, which took two years in the lab to concoct. It was time well spent -- their layered jazzy riffs combine with wacky samples in an impressively seamless, free-flowing way.
Being the clever entrepreneur, Cola -- who understands the realities of working independently -- is making the space available to other bands seeking to refine and record their sound concepts outside the realm of major labels.
"A small label is great for being able to keep your artistic freedom and control your musical vision," he says from his Montreal home. "But they don't have the same money and can't offer artists the exposure that big labels can. It's a difficult decision, but I think it's worth it to stay small."
That creative freedom is crucial when Jazz Pharmacy performs. They take soulful beats, dose 'em with a tab of funky acid and spit out trippy jazz grooves with spacey jams.
"Phil uses a shortwave radio and acts like a DJ with it by switching stations and scratching to it. The crowd seems to really enjoy it."
It's a sound Jazz Pharmacy have offered since they began gigging in Montreal lounges and clubs over seven years ago. And Cola isn't interested in leaving behind the city's cosmopolitan vibe anytime soon.
"I guess we're just trying to develop a solid foundation before we think of moving. But these days, you don't really have to go anywhere. We have easy access to Toronto and New York, so what's the point?"