MoonJune Records in 2020     

by John McGuire

The MoonJune World in 2020: A Captain John's Log

As of this article's writing, we find ourselves at the very end of what would have to be considered one of the most difficult years collective humanity has endured in recent memory. The Covid-19 pandemic unleashed destruction on populations the world over, changing life as we know it and probably altering how we will view it, from this point going forward. Almost in complete synchronicity in response to the world's recognition of the outbreak, and the extreme impacts it was destined to have almost all nations' responded by instituting varying degrees of economic shutdown.

Needless to say, numerous industries deemed as "non-essential" were the most hard hit by such responses. To that end, perhaps no occupations were more negatively impacted than that of 'performing artists.' Musicians the world over had tours, festivals and individual live dates suddenly cancelled. Thousands of artists were forced to rethink their existence.
For small independents, such as MoonJune's Leonardo Pavkovic, the challenges were even more daunting. Not only did the primary source of his income evaporate (as MoonJune Music, the booking and management side of the company, which for two decades now, has supported a truly non-profit MoonJune Records' existence), but he had complete tours cancelled and a stable of artists looking to him for answers.
... answers, it should be said, that NO ONE had!

Indeed, friends, 2020 was a year that presented this huge problem for all the world's nations - which blossomed into a cascade of relative upheavals for dozens if not hundreds of millions of its citizens, almost irrespective (aside from "essential workers") of their occupations.

To those of you who are familiar with MoonJune's illustrious "head honcho, " you already know him as a gent who is more than capable of producing maximum results from minimal circumstances. (If not for his strict discipline and tight control with regard to company overhead, without question, the planet MoonJune would have shot out of orbit many years prior.) Despite this year's incredible trials, the old expression "When life deals you lemons, make lemonade" comes to mind when viewing MoonJune Records' 2020 album releases.
A prime example of his ability to 'make lemonade' is illustrated, gloriously, in two releases: Gary Husband & Markus Reuter's "Music of our Times, " and Stick Men's (featuring Gary Husband) "Owari." Both of these fabulous efforts were born out of a Stick Men Asian tour which was abruptly cancelled after the band's first gig in Nagoya. Truly, no one can ever accuse Messenger Pavkovic of being anything less than a sincerely motivated visionary of the most high order.

So, the year wound up being most challenging for millions of small businesses, worldwide. But, especially hard hit was the music industry an industry, and its bevy of artists, already reeling from a brutal transition into the digital realm of seemingly inevitable dealings with vulture capitalist companies such as Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and Pandora. Truly, it's not like the industry wasn't already saddled with very real threats to its continued existence, prior to Covid rearing its ugly head.

Consider all this, then consider that MoonJune Records is an independent label of niche progressive music which explores and expands boundaries of jazz, rock, avant, ethno, the unknown, and anything in between and beyond a genre where relative 'success' is measured by "hundreds of sales".

That said, ironically, 2020 wound up being one of the label's most profound and fruitful in MoonJune Records' now 20-year existence. (So, this "Captain's Log" update is also the celebration of a true milestone: 20 years!!) In a year marred by tragedy all around, Leonardo Pavkovic crafted one of his finest, most vintage batches of lemonade, ever!

With regard to that, 2020's output was one where some amazing artists many of whom are known, but under-recognized and under-acknowledged came to the fore. The progressive fusion icon, multi-instrumentalist Gary Husband, truly shined exposing elements of his deep, profound musical acoustic piano persona. (... which even drew comparisons with such iconic names as 'Keith Jarrett.')

Primarily, though, German genius, Markus Reuter was found basking in the spotlight: being featured on seven of the year's ten releases. Always revered as one of avant-garde's most innovative, brilliant texturists, Markus' efforts expanded his reputation for great capacity and versatility framing him as a truly world-class guitarist, and visionary composer. With a commentary regarding the year's initial offering which also marked MoonJune Records' historic 100th album release noted critic and 'All About Jazz' contributor, Mark Sullivan, summed up Reuter in eloquent fashion: "While Markus Reuter has contributed to many excellent albums, it is a special treat to hear him take center stage the way he does here. It makes it easy to hear him as a fiery, creative soloist (as well as an excellent soundscaper). Not just a great touch-guitarist, but a great guitarist, period."

Indeed, it was, in large part, his bone-crushing presence which made MoonJune Records' first release of the year January's solo effort, "Truce" (featuring Fabio Trentini and Asaf Sirkis) such a memorable affair.

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