Livia Records Relaunches with Louis Stewart's 'Out On His Own'
Livia Records, Ireland’s first jazz label, established in 1977 by artist Gerald Davis, will be relaunched this week with the release of guitarist Louis Stewart’s Out On His Own.
The album was the label’s first release, and also Stewart’s first entirely solo album, and is now regarded as a classic of the genre.
Davis was a descendant of Lithuanian Jews who came to Ireland in the 1880s and he was born in Dublin in 1938. He was a well-known painter and gallery owner, a Joycean, and a lifelong friend of Stewart. He would on occasion host jazz sessions in his house on Capel Street and, conscious of the growing jazz scene, he obtained a reel-to-reel tape recorder to document it.
In 1977, he established Livia records and set about producing Out On His Own. The album was recorded in the Pat Hayes Recording Studio in Bray, Co. Wicklow, on the ground floor of the house ‘Edenvale’ on the seafront. Hayes was a sound engineer and film sound mixer, and he recorded Seán Ó Riada’s classic Ó Riada sa Gaiety in 1969 as well as albums by Séamus Ennis and Ceoltóirí Laighean.
Most of the recording sessions for Out On His Own were undertaken on Monday 15 November 1976. As Cormac Larkin writes in the sleeve notes:
The songs that Louis chose to play that day divide into two categories: the tunes which he played entirely solo; and the tunes on which he first laid down an accompanying rhythm track. Microphones were placed in front of Louis’ small amplifier, and also in front of the guitar, and the two feeds were mixed. It’s an approach that lends the recording an immediacy and a remarkable intimacy. Listening now to the remastered tracks, we feel as if we are there in the room, unseen by this master, alone with the instrument.
There are 19 tracks on the re-release, including ‘Darn That Dream’, ‘Stella by Starlight’ and ‘She Moves Through the Fair’, and three previously unheard tracks, ‘Forest Flower’, What’s New’ and ‘Spring is Here’.
Livia Records released over twenty recordings over three decades, including several more by Stewart, with, amongst others, drummer John Wadham, flautist Brian Dunning and pianist Jim Doherty. The label has now been reactivated by Dermot Rogers, with the support of the Davis and Stewart families, and there are plans to release more albums from the back catalogue. Davis died in 2005, and Stewart in 2016.
Out On His Own will be released on Friday 24 February on Bandcamp and includes a 16-page booklet and previously unpublished photographs. For more, visit https://liviarecords.com.
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Published on 21 February 2023