Steve Backer

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The founder of the Novus subsidiary, Steve Backer has managed to produce many adventurous jazz dates during periods when avant-garde jazz was in danger of disappearing from American labels. Although he…
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The founder of the Novus subsidiary, Steve Backer has managed to produce many adventurous jazz dates during periods when avant-garde jazz was in danger of disappearing from American labels. Although he had lessons on bass, Backer early on decided that it was best to help jazz from behind-the-scenes. He did promotional and A&R work for MGM/Verve and Elektra during 1969-71 and then in 1972 became ABC/Impulse's national promotion director. Within six months he was the general manager of Impulse and during the next two years he helped revive the dying label, recording and working with such artists as Keith Jarrett, Gato Barbieri, John Klemmer and Pharoah Sanders. In 1974 Backer moved over to Arista as their director of jazz A&R. For six years Backer was very busy at Arista, licensing music for the Arista Freedom label, reissuing vintage performances on Savoy and running Novus which recorded new performances by many adventurous artists including most notably an extensive series by Anthony Braxton. He also helped out a bit with the up-and-coming subsidiary GRP. Since leaving Arista in 1980, Backer worked with Windham Hill during 1981-86 (where he formed the Magenta subsidiary) and then in the 1990s for RCA where he revitalized Bluebird and restarted Novus.