Richmond, California (EastBayDaily) — The new Houston label Mercator Media is set to launch next month with the release of CDs by two exceptional jazz vocalists who call Houston home. “A Night Like This,” on which Bryan Anthony is backed by the Gary Norian Trio with bassist Thomas Helton and drummer Joel Fulgham, is due July 12. Yvonne Washington’s “Trust in Me,” which features Norian as her sole accompanist, will be released July 26.
Mercator was founded by Houston business executive Scott D. Josey with the idea that “the artist matters.” Josey is a longtime music fan who studied piano for a time with Gary Norian. “At Mercator, instead of the traditional recording contract, we utilize profit-sharing concepts similar to those employed in private equity arrangements to create a partnership where the artist and label work together,” says Josey. “With commercial success, both the artist and Mercator benefit, which is the way it should be.”
Josey was deeply impressed with Norian’s musicianship (“He’s the whole package”) and brought him on board as Mercator’s de facto A&R director.
“It’s exciting to be part of something that’s being built from the ground level, from just an idea, and at the same time to have such a big hand in the actual content,” says Norian, a Chicago native who’s lived in Houston since 1999. “I wanted it to be something extremely high-end from the musical standpoint, high-caliber performance and writing and production, since this is our maiden voyage.”
Yvonne Washington has long been one of the busiest and most versatile singers on the Houston scene, and has frequently worked with Norian in a duo setting over the last ten years. Bryan Anthony, Texas-bred and New York-schooled, soars on his new CD with Norian’s deftly swinging trio behind him (and sings three of Gary’s original compositions in addition to American Songbook repertoire).
Plans for Mercator include a Gary Norian project in the coming year and a general focus on American music art forms such as jazz and roots music. “There’s an Austin vibe to that,” says Norian, though the talent pool that’s being tapped is all Houston.
In addition, the label is intending to seek bookings—at local clubs and regional festivals, for starters—that will feature the entire roster. “What Mercator is doing is providing opportunities for music and people we think deserve to be heard,” says Norian. “And the artists are more than willing partners in this joint venture.”
Terri Hinte PR