GrandVista label exec envisions alternative for local music fans

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 2:43am

The GrandVista label isn’t as well known around Music City as some of the bigger companies on Music Row. But the three-disc boxed set How Sweet The Sound they issued in November featured an unusual and intriguing blend of smooth jazz, choral arrangements and orchestral reconfigurations of vintage hymns, plus a bonus disc of Christmas classics.

Now, they’re about to expand their profile. “We’re ready to really step out,” company president Paul Binkley said. “We’ve only made some tiny steps the last few months, but now we want to let people know about our artists and their music.”

Towards that end, the first monthly GrandVista Music Club will be held Friday night at Limelight, 202 Woodland across from LP field.

Envisioned as a regular opportunity for area fans to hear performances from and interact with their artists, as well as previews of upcoming discs, the inaugural event features the GrandVista Recording Orchestra, a group of Nashville’s finest jazz & session musicians. Also on the bill are vocalist/actress Shelean Newman and romantic crooner Perry Danos.

Newman and Danos will be performing tunes from their forthcoming GrandVista releases Anything Goes and Swingin’ On The Moon. In addition, the first 200 guests at Friday’s event receive a free label sampler. Tickets are $5.

“We’re really aiming at anyone who appreciates great music, though because of the way demographics work in today’s industry, there’s a large cross-section of the population whose tastes are being ignored because they are 50 and older,” Binkley said in discussing GrandVista’s overall philosophy and objectives. “One of the things that really got my partner David (Mastran) convinced that this made good business sense in terms of starting a label was the fact that his passion for music came later in life. David had started his own business and built it into such a success that it eventually became a Fortune 500 company.”

The pair initially teamed up while working together on a recording project.

“Once we became convinced that it made good business sense to really expand the operation and begin a label, it represented a new challenge for me, because my background has always been working for multiple bosses on different projects,” Binkley said. “Now, as president of the label, I have a different focus in terms of looking at ways of building a company, developing a sound and finding and growing a label and audience.”

Mastran, chairman and founder of GrandVista Music (1706 Grand Ave.), previously launched and helped develop Maximus, Inc. into a “Top 100 Growth Company” for four consecutive years according to Business Week. He’s also a songwriter for the label and currently composes melodies for the Orchestra Mastrangelo product line.

Besides being GrandVista Music’s president, Binkley is an internationally known and respected acoustic guitar specialist who has performed with such artists as The Fifth Dimension, Lari White, Lorrie Morgan and Mandy Barnett. Before becoming involved with GrandVista, Binkley spent five years performing with Alabama.

He has also has served as the musical director for the Tennessee Repertory Theatre, The Nashville Shakespeare Festival, The Mockingbird Theater, and the` Coterie Theater in Kansas City.

Other major members of the GrandVista team include director of marketing Walt Wilson, who before joining GrandVista helped develop the careers of Joan Osborne, Ivan Neville, George Jones, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Tanya Tucker and several others while working in sales and marketing for such labels as Asylum, Capitol, and MCA Records, as well as TNA Entertainment and Compendia Music.

Studio manager and senior Engineer Eddie Bedford’s clients as a mixer and recorder range from the Nashville Symphony Chorus and Hanna/Barbera Productions to Gaylord Entertainment, plus numerous pit orchestras and arena rock shows.

With this diversified lineup, it’s no wonder Binkley’s quick to say that while jazz and jazz-influenced projects have a high priority at the label, they’re interested in a broad range of music.

“We probably won’t be going into mainstream country any time soon, because there are a lot of great companies on Music Row that do that already and do it well,” Binkley said. “But we have the luxury of being able to do quality music, to take some chances, and not to worry about going out of business if we make a mistake or if we don’t get a huge hit right away. David and I are really committed to trying some innovative things in terms of production and direction, of making the best possible music that we can, and not being so concerned about tapping into anything that’s already being done, at least not like anyone else is doing it.”

Binkley deems the new discs coming from Danos and Newman as illustrative of GrandVista’s approach.

“Perry has been one of Nashville’s best studio vocalists and also appeared on lots of commercials over the years. He’s very much a crooner in the Tony Bennett tradition, but with his own sound and style. That disc will probably be more traditional,” he said. “Shelean is well known in the theatrical community, and we’re going to try some different things in terms of her interpretations and performances of show tunes. It will be a more eclectic approach, rather than a straight Broadway or show tune project.”

GrandVista releases will be available both in retail outlets and online ( The GrandVista Recording Orchestra has already released Dream, a concept work that’s instrumental versions of popular songs containing the word dream in the title. It is part of an ongoing series of orchestra discs done in this vein.

“Looking down the line, we certainly want to have sustained growth and good sales,” Binkley concluded. “But we’re more concerned about providing Nashville music fans with quality music, and with reaching a wide range of listeners that tend to be ignored when it comes to marketing and outreach.”

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