Friday, 5 February 2010
Creed Taylor, Inc
OK, so I'm probably not breaking any new ground with a post about C.T.I. Records. In fact, I know I'm not - there's tonnes of great sites on the internet dedicated to the label and probably loads of blogs with individual album reviews and downloads. I couldn't, however, find anywhere else which includes what I have here - a nice little label catalogue from 1975. Initially I was only gonna post up the scans, but then decided it wouldn't hurt to delve into the crates and include some of my favourite albums as well.
I can't for the life of me remember where this catalogue, or 'katalogus' came from because I don't own any C.T.I. releases which aren't either U.K. or U.S. pressings, and as the spelling suggests, this must have been included in an Hungarian or perhaps German release? I've had it in my collection for around ten years now and no matter where it came from, it's a nice little reference point that I find myself going back to from time to time.
The booklet features a full list of releases up until 1975, on Creed Taylor's C.T.I. imprint as well as the subsidiaries 'Kudu' and 'Salvation'. It also includes photos of all the covers, which is what, for me, makes it something special. Although it is only reproduced in black and white the stunning graphic design and photography still translate well - a testament to the artists responsible, in most cases Pete Turner (Photography) and Bob Ciano (Design). In doing a little research for this post I've only just found out that Pete Turner had a book of his photography published in 2006 called "The Color Of Jazz". Looks like a 'must have' that I'll be adding to this years birthday present list.
So anyway, here's the scans...
Inside pages (click to enlarge)
Back cover (click to enlarge)
So that's the catalogue, now for a few records.
C.T.I. is one of my favourite non Hip-Hop labels that consistently turned out top notch Jazz throughout the seventies after Creed Taylor split from a production deal with A&M in the sixties to set up his own independent imprint. Finding a C.T.I. record in the wild is always really nice for me. Sure, you can probably pick up a good deal of the catalogue on eBay with great ease, but to find them at Bootsales and Charity shops in the U.K. is quite a struggle - when they do turn up it's a real bonus.
I'd say I've got around thirty or so albums (including releases on A&M and the two subsidiaries) and pretty much everything I've ever bought has been pure quality. From the heavyweight, high gloss, gate-fold sleeves, through to the lush production and arrangements, a record on C.T.I. near enough always guarantees a great package throughout.
Here's my top five tracks from the collection...
Thought I'd start with what I consider to be the ultimate release on the label, Bob James' classic, 'Nautilus'. Recorded at the tale end of the 'Golden Era', featuring the staple line up of session kings (including Steve Gadd, Idris Muhammad, Ralph MacDonald, Grover Washington, Jon Faddis, Thad Jones, Hugh McCracken, Eric Weissberg, Gary King, etc...) as well as a full orchestra, all six tracks on this album are 'epic' scores of the greatest proportions.
I won't babble on too much about each individual song, who sampled what off them, etc, because like I said before, I'm not breaking any new ground, these are just my personal favourites. If you're into Jazz or collecting breaks it's more than likely you already own this album anyway. If you don't, you really should.
I can honestly say, I never tire of listening to 'Nautilus'. Play it back to back for an hour and it never drains - musical arrangements just don't come much better than this. As for samples? The list goes on and on...
'Nautilus' (1974 C.T.I. Records)
Next up is an album that includes another 'ultimate break and beat' - 'Sister Sanctified' by Stanley Turrentine featuring Milt Jackson on Vibes. You should all know this track anyway with it's classic break, most notably made famous by Boogie Down Productions on 'My Philosophy'. Billy Cobham is rocking the funky drums with Ron Carter on bass. Bob James blesses the keys and Cornell Dupree does his thing plucking away on the guitar. This particular song was written and arranged by the late Weldon Irvine Jnr, and much like 'Nautilus' is a track I never tire of listening to. Many of Stanley Turrentine's albums can be kind of hard work unless you like cheesy Sax solos, but they seemed to have found a nice balance on this one.
Unfortunately I only own a re-issue of this L.P. from 1982 and as much as I avidly avoid them, the year of re-release sort of allows forgiveness in my eyes. Until I find an original that is.
'Sister Sanctified' (1972 C.T.I. Records)
In much the same fold as Bob James, Eumir Deodato was a prolific arranger and keys man throughout his career and worked on a whole wealth of classic albums, like wise supplying many a 'break' or 'sample' for producers of later years. 'Prelude' was his debut L.P. on C.T.I. and produced a cross over hit in the shape of his arrangement of 'Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)'. The track was released as a single and is the only 45 on the label that I have ever come across whilst out digging. I've had quite a few copies of this album over the years - I should imagine, thanks to the success of the single, it was the label's biggest seller.
Like most C.T.I. releases, there's a good load of sample material on the L.P. which you can check over at 'The-Breaks' or wherever, but I did recently notice the use of the drums from 'September 13' layered (I think) into Black Sheep's 'Try Counting Sheep'. Very subtle I know, but I'm pretty sure they're in there.
By the way, this is probably my favourite C.T.I. sleeve.
'September 13' (1972 C.T.I. Records)
Grover Washington, Jr.
From the saxophone superstar's Kudu released album 'Feels So Good' I was hard pressed to pick a favourite between 'Knucklehead' and 'Hydra'. Most would probably choose the more obvious 'Hydra' as it features the instantly recognisable break that Black Moon used for their classic single 'How Many Emcees'. After weighing them up I eventually settled on 'Knucklehead' as I've always loved the remix of Yvette Michell's 'Everynight And Everyday' (featuring Doo Wop), which used a loop or two from this.
The album features pretty much all the same musicians I've already mentioned but it's worth noting Jimmy Madison hitting sticks hard on 'Hydra'.
I never noticed the halo round Grover's head until i scanned in the cover today. The glow is far more subtle in the flesh.
'Knucklehead' (1975 Kudu Records)
'The Changing World'
Another great cover and another great album. Recorded during George's transitional period, there's hints of some of the cheese he was later to release, but still plenty of quality material on 1974's 'Bad Benson'.
I remember finding this album in an Antiques shop somewhere in South London about thirteen years ago with my mate Si. Can't remember the name of the town. Near Croydon somewhere. Doesn't really matter anyway but I do specifically remember getting goosebumps though the first time I played 'The Changing World' and the sample for Common Sense's 'I Used To Love H.E.R.' dropped in. I love finding breaks I don't know about, especially on songs that are quite emotive anyway, which 'The Changing World' definitely is.
If you haven't heard this track before, and have a short attention span you'll wanna skip to the 4min mark. If you like good music in general just hit play, sit back and relax - it's a beautiful piece of music.
'The Changing World' (1974 C.T.I. Records)
And before I go, thought I'd leave you with this "definition of a holy-grail"! Word to Soulman Phill...
Bob James 'Take Me To The Mardi Gras (Live)'