January 1, 2005, Cleveland, Ohio Founded by musician/entrepreneur Dave Love in 1990, Heads Up International celebrates its 15th anniversary as one of the world’s premier crossover jazz labels with debut releases from saxophonists Najee, Walter Beasley and Michael Brecker, among others.
Having signed "the most influential tenor stylist of the last 25 years" (Jazziz Magazine), Heads Up has much to celebrate in 2005. "I’m delighted to join an organization which is fast becoming a force in contemporary instrumental music," says Brecker. "Congratulations to Dave Love and Heads Up on their first 15 years!"
Heads Up will be honored in March with concerts at the Berks Jazz Fest in Reading, Pennsylvania, and the North Sea Jazz Festival in Cape Town, South Africa.
In 2005, the company also releases exciting new recordings by jazz fusion pioneers Yellowjackets and Hiroshima, steel pan master Andy Narell with his French-Caribbean band Sakésho, and label veterans pianist/vocalist Joe McBride and bassist Gerald Veasley.
"I’ve been fortunate to be a part of the Heads Up family since 1992 and have watched its remarkable evolution," Veasley says. "Through the determination of its hard-working president, Dave Love, and his great staff, Heads Up has grown in stature and influence in the jazz community. It’s especially gratifying to me, since they believed in me at a time when there were precious few bassists who were solo recording artists. Now, six recordings later, I credit Heads Up with making it possible for me to have shared my music with listeners around the world."
The Heads Up Africa series, a critically acclaimed collection that spotlights some of Southern Africa’s finest vocalists and instrumentalists, continues with captivating new releases from trumpeter Hugh Masekela, singer/songwriter Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi from Zimbabwe and the legendary Zulu vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
"When we first met the people at Heads Up International, they said they loved our singing," says Joseph Shabalala, leader and founder of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. "Since that time we’ve worked very hard together and because of Heads Up, not only do they love our singing but thousands in America love our singing."
With over 90 albums in its catalog to date, Heads Up has a short but rich history, winning numerous awards including the AFIM’s Independent Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year for Pieces of a Dreams’ Love’s Silhouette and a Grammy nomination in 2004 for Yellowjackets’ Time Squared, and producing some of the world's most critically-acclaimed releases of the past fifteen years, including the Jaco Pastorius Big Band’s Word of Mouth Revisited and Paquito D’Rivera’s 100 Years of Latin Love Songs with strings.
The Heads Up roster has also been the home to some of the past 15 years’ biggest contemporary jazz artists, including Spyro Gyra, Nestor Torres, Earth Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey, Marion Meadows, Doc Powell, The Caribbean Jazz Project, Joyce Cooling, Richie Cole, Roberto Perera, and Alexander Zonjic, among others.
For the last nine years, Heads Up has offered enhanced CDs with videos, artist bios and other bonus material. The label was also among the first to release in the Super Audio CD 5.1 Surround Sound (SACD) format.
Born in Kearny, New Jersey, Dave Love started playing trumpet when he was in the fifth grade. Although he was classically trained, by his freshman year of high school he had discovered the music of John Coltrane and Lee Morgan. Love studied composition and arranging with the late Dr. Tom Boras during his high school years and studied at the renowned Chautauqua Institution during the summer months. Love later attended North Texas State, graduating in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in jazz trumpet performance. The young trumpeter/arranger won several scholarships, including the Lloyd Akridge Memorial Arranging Scholarship for two years in a row and the first ever Louis Hubert Memorial Scholarship presented by the Dallas Jazz Society, which he also won a second year. During his final years in school, Love became the musical director for trumpeter/educator Donald Byrd.
In 1982, Love formed a jazz quintet called Heads Up and was soon playing gigs throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He launched the Heads Up label in Seattle, Washington, in 1990 with the release of The Energy of the Chance by Love and saxophonist Dave Liebman. Heads Up struck a distribution deal with Telarc International Corporation in 1996, and four years later, when the two companies merged, Love moved to Cleveland, Ohio. In 2004, the influential jazz executive made JazzTimes Magazine’s "Top 25 Power Index."
"It is such an honor to be representing the groups currently with Heads Up," adds Love. "Musicians like these have kept me motivated for 15 years. It is so wonderful to present their art to the world as our company grows. How time flies when you’re having fun."