"It started just as a joke amongst friends. I was on the other side of the world, in Thailand, in the process of recording the new Sarah Lancman album. Around me were my most loyal musical companions: Gianluca Renzi, Gene Jackson, Toku, Lukmil Perez...
Right in the middle of dinner, after a long day in the studio, one of them quipped:
Hey Giovanni, have you noticed that there are eleven of us here, and since the whole of Asia refers to you as the "George Clooney of jazz", maybe we can pull off the musical heist of the 21st century?
Yeah! And we'd call ourselves "Jazz Eleven", right?
Jazz Eleven seemed like an excellent name, and straightaway it started running round in my head.
After all, like in the famous film, we'd all known each other for years; each of us had their own special skills and unique talents, and all of us liked a job well done.
Also, like in the film, we were all homegrown artists, scattered around the world, but always willing to come together to work on slightly wacky musical projects.
Back in Paris, I talked about the idea with Sarah. "What about setting up our own record label?"
We'd be able to produce our own albums from scratch, release vinyl records, re-release some old recordings; we could explore new talents, and organise concerts both in France and around the world.
Not bad for a present to celebrate my twenty years in this line of business?
A record label would be a novel way of sharing musical experience, giving so much more than you can give just as a musician. It would be a means of being completely independent, of justifying ambitious choices in musical style, and provide a route to embark on some serious musical adventures.
So there we are: Jazz Eleven it is. It's our new banner, and let's hope it becomes the benchmark for all true jazz lovers."