The annual CalArts Jazz CD project, led by Jazz Studies faculty member David Roitstein and produced by Capitol/EMI, is a compilation of works written and performed by students of The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts and recorded/engineered at Capitol Studios in Hollywood. The entire 23-album collection is now available on a redesigned site—allowing anyone to easily find, download and stream 257 tracks of original music.
Each track listing includes information about performers, composers, as well as the album art designers. Visitors can also search by musicians and faculty to find all affiliated tracks.
During the past 23 years, talented artists have been included in the archive, including trumpeter Ralph Alessi, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, bassist Noah Harmon, among many others.
The selection process for the project is open to any student to submit new compositions. A faculty committee selects music with the goal of having as many students record at the studio as possible, representing a wide variety of musical interests at CalArts (music which often deviates from the traditional “jazz” genre).
A significant focus of the CalArts Jazz CD is the collaboration between the Jazz Studies and Graphic Design programs. The artwork on every CD is created by a design student, chosen like the music, in an open process.
The project was spearheaded by Roitstein and faculty member Charlie Haden in 1989-90, when former president and CEO of Capitol Records/EMI Music Joe Smith joined the CalArts Board of Trustees.
As Roitstein explains:
The idea was simple—Capitol/EMI would support an annual recording project of new, original music from CalArts students. This project would be a way for Capitol/EMI to have a tremendous impact on the lives of many young, talented musicians.
Since then, we’ve recorded twenty-three CDs at Capitol Studios, and the annual recording has become an anticipated event and an established model for other projects like it around the world.