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Alan Bise and Bruce Egre, Clinton Studios 2008 (New York)

Alan Bise and Bruce Egre, Clinton Studios 2008 (New York)

In 1992, 3 musician friends who love music thought it would be a good idea to start a record label.  The label was imagined to be both a classical and jazz label, capturing great performances with great sound. Bruce Egre, Don Better, and John Holmquist brainstormed endlessly for a unique name.  One evening, Don’s wife Elvie Zell came up with the name “Azica”, taking the “Az” from the word Jazz, and the ‘ica” from the word classical.  Azica was born.

Those first few years were a struggle, but Azica released significant recordings captured with some of the highest fidelity sound of the day. Operating under the traditional business model of the time, Azica paid artist fees and hoped to sell enough CDs to make a profit.

After a few years, John Holmquist moved on to other things as did Don Better.  John was a world renowned guitarist and pedagogue, whom we lost to cancer in 2021.  Don continues to own and operate one of the nation’s foremost audiophile dealerships (www.donbetteraudio.com).

Azica was largely modeled after Cleveland based Telarc International.  Telarc Co-founder and recording engineer Jack Renner continued to be a source of advice and inspiration for Bruce in the early stages of the company.  David Cerone, then President of the Cleveland Institute of Music, often counseled Bruce about leadership and musicality, always willing to offer thoughtful advice.  Bruce regarded both men as significant in the early stages of Azica’s development.

In this time period, of the mid to late 90s, music distributors were going bankrupt on a regular basis.  Azica went through 3 different distributors, and each time tens of thousands of dollars of CDs were orphaned on the market, ultimately paying Azica pennies on the dollar.  Bruce carefully guided Azica through these lean times, keeping it afloat.

In 1999, Bruce’s former student, Alan Bise, moved back to Cleveland after spending several years working in Dallas.  Alan had started a successful production company and had both produced and engineered several records for clients in the Dallas area.  In December of 1999, the producer Bruce had hired for a session was suddenly not available.  Alan stepped in at the last minute to produce the session and the working relationship began.

From 1999 to 2020, Bruce owned the company and handled all business/contractual matters, as well as distribution and marketing.  Alan handled A&R, pre-production planning, post-production, and served as session producer for almost every classical release.

On September 23, 2020, we lost Bruce after a two year battle with cancer.  It was a devastating loss to Azica, his family and friends, and the musical community at large.  Bruce wanted Azica to carry on, and for all the music he captured to continue to be heard.  Alan Bise took over operations of Azica upon Bruce’s death.  The catalog remains intact.

Azica remains committed to great performances and great sound.  We continue to operate a full session and release schedule, recording all over North America and beyond.