Owl Studios revs up 

Produces jazz music videos

When businessman J. Allen Hall decided he wanted to start his own record label last year, he settled in Indy’s fertile jazz scene. With the new year, Hall has kicked Owl Studios into high gear.

Hall has assigned Matthew Altizer, who recently helped shoot a music video for Cynthia Layne’s upcoming CD, to implement an ambitious program aimed at making Owl Studios a major label on the national jazz scene. This includes releasing new albums by Layne and saxophonist Rob Dixon. “We have a lot of big things coming up this year,” he says. “There will be a small, limited edition pressing of 300 CDs coming out for [the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra’s] Valentine’s Day concert. New artists joining Owl Studios this summer are trumpeter Derrick Gardner [and] quite a few other national artists, so we are pretty excited.”

Music videos are a large part of Owl Studios’ expanded direction. Director Ross Simpson, owner of JGCI Productions, has worked on many such films. During a break at Layne’s recent shoot, Simpson shared news of some other upcoming Owl Studios music videos. “Owl Studios is going to start a big media push. The next video project in a month is pretty cool with Rob [Dixon], Melvin Rhyne [B-3 organ], Kenny Phelps [drums] and John Scofield. The videos will be shopped around to BET, VH-1 Soul and Regular.”

Layne’s music video was shot at the Pike Performing Arts Center on a stage that looked like a Hollywood soundstage. A 10-man crew shot Layne in front of a green screen. Behind the screen, shadow dancers Brittany Day and Nicky Owens of Kenyatta Dance performed fluid movements to the music’s groove. Layne felt the star treatment in spite of two 10-hour days in front of the camera. “It’s been the opportunity of a lifetime,” she says.

Layne’s upcoming CD, Seize the Day, will be released by this summer.

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