Artemis, the all-star septet formed by pianist Renee Rosnes, has signed to Blue Note Records.
In a statement released today, the label confirmed that the group — also featuring vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, clarinetist Anat Cohen, tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, bassist Noriko Ueda and drummer Allison Miller — will release its debut album next year.
Artemis hasn’t been on the scene that long, but it’s no stranger to the spotlight. Last year, the ensemble was the focus of a sterling episode of Jazz Night in America, featuring music from its main-stage set at the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival.
Hank Shteamer of Rolling Stone singled out that performance as one of the festival’s highlights. “Their set played like an expertly crafted mixtape,” he wrote, “moving from a knotty version of Thelonious Monk’s ‘Brilliant Corners’ to a surprisingly dramatic arrangement of the Beatles’ ‘Fool on the Hill.’”
As it happens, that Newport set also made an impression on Blue Note president Don Was. “Although each individual member of this supergroup is a bona fide jazz titan,” he reflects in a label press release, “these incredible musicians dwell in the rarefied air of bands whose whole is greater than the sum of its already sublime parts. Their musical conversation is sophisticated, soulful and powerful and their groove runs deep.”
That Artemis is an all-female collective is both a distinguishing trait and, for its members, a secondary concern. The group is also an intergenerational cohort, and an international one. In the Jazz Night episode, its members express varying degrees of ambivalence about their designation as elite women in jazz.
“I would love to come to the time where somebody would look at a group like Artemis and just think of it as a band without actually having to mention, ‘Oh, it's an all-woman band,’ or ‘It’s an all-female band,’” says Rosnes.
Still, it’s worth noting that their signing significantly alters the gender balance on Blue Note’s active roster. (Rosnes has released albums on Blue Note in the past; currently, every female artist on the label is known principally as a vocalist, like Norah Jones and Kandace Springs.)
What seems certain is that Artemis will make a splash with its debut, on both musical and cultural terms. In the meantime, the group makes another kind of debut, at Carnegie Hall, on Dec. 7.