CTI RECORDS FOUNDER SUCCUMBS


CREED TAYLOR: CTI RECORDS the Next Wave

By Robert J. Carmack

Recently we lost a monumental figure of an era in music, Jazz in particular, Creed Taylor. Taylor pronounced dead in his home in Nuremburg, Germany. It appeared that he was unable to recover from a severe stroke just prior to his death. Beginning in 1950s Taylor excelled in productions and talent scouting. This led to the early creation of the “house that TRANE” built, Impulse Records, circa 1960. Also during the early years at Impulse, he again struck gold by signing saxophonist, Stan Getz. That alliance spawned several hit albums and a “Bossa Nova ,USA movement. In addition to Getz, he also introduced the world to Joao Gilberto. He penned several Bossa Nova hits, none bigger than the Girl from Ipanema, sung in both English and Portuguese by his beautiful and sultry wife, Astrud, a  multi-Grammy-winner for the Getz/Gilberto Album.

One of Creed’s inspiring heroes in music was the creator of Jazz at the Philharmonic, Norman Granz. He made monumental concerts and tours in Europe with some of the biggest and brightest Jazz stars out of USA.Taylor easily slipped into that Granz role of A&R/ Producer for Verve Records in Jazz division.

One of his top collaborations in music was with the great conductor and arranger, Don Sabesky. Who’s fingerprints were all over the best of Verve artists on the roster. The other great collaboration and “Gold Strike” discovery was the quite different guitarist, Wes Montgomery. He had a smooth delivery with more of a “thumbing” approach as oppose to strumming with pick. Also, he added a technique which some called a double-stop chording effect. This allowed Montgomery to play clean and still swing hard as required by jazz idioms. This writer was first faced with that sound in early/mid-60s album cuts from album Moving Wes, Bumpin, Tequila, Going Out of my Head, & who could forget the very soulful “Bumpin” on Sunset a multi-award winner cut and composition. It was the “Darling” of the Pop & jazz Radio audiences. Again, Taylor brings in Don Sebesky and his orchestra on the Montgomery sound and popularity. Claus Ogerman was prominent on the Tequila album. Taylor being the talent scout he was, found out “He” was being recruited by a new label in pop and mainstream music. Herb Alpert of Tijuana Brass fame was earning Big buckets of money in his new label via the Tijuana Brass, Baja Marimba band and other POP and novelty records selling like hot cakes to a starved audience. As Creed Taylor was coming over to the Herb Alpert/Jerry Moss label, To develop their new jazz division under the small creative label CTI(Creed Taylor Inc.) the first fruits were an album entitled, A Day in the Life (made popular by the Beatles)other great songs on that album were  Watch what happens, When a Man loves a woman, California Nights and Angel, all anchored by the title track, A Day in the Life.(1967)

It appeared to me, even at the young age of 17, I could draw that, this was a brilliant move by Alpert/Moss label. Ripping-off a keystone artist on his previous label at Verve, and introducing this fabulous guitarist to a new hip and open-minded audiences. An artist who could play jazz at its highest level , while still being approachable by young and older audiences. Heavy pop tunes were selected by Taylor, like the Association, Beatles, other popular young group tunes. They were brought back to life with jazz guitar on not only radio, but by 1968, Wes Montgomery was on Prime-time TV shows produced by Alpert/Moss. Needless to say, this garners TV show awards for the young Record label. Unfortunately for A&M Records, Wes Montgomery was dead by summer of 1968. Reeling from their loss of the Cash cow in Montgomery hits that played on AM and FM stations and network television.

One of the biggest decision made by Creed taylor was to now reorganize his role and position with A&M.. He then crafted a deal where A&M would now be the prime Distributor of CTI Records products.

Taylor went to work immediate putting a plan of action in place by signing big name jazz artists who had recently left other mainstream labels and was being reinvented by Taylor in his new label image of , Young sounds of electronic instruments, and popular compositions recently heard on the Radio in all genres; Soul, POP, Latin and Middle of the Road audiences. `Officially beginning in 1969/70.. you saw Taylor create some new jazz classics with older jazz artists,Quincy Jones,Nat Adderley, Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Hubert Laws, Milt “Bags” Jackson, George Benson, Deodato, Joe Farrell were scattered around the charts in early 70s radio and concerts. Just like Blue Note records grew its roster of players by recording early and often with stars and their friends that they brought with them regardless of stature or standing.

Taylor, like Blue Note records used only the best in Recording and Engineering by bringing in Rudy Van Gelder on most of their choice records. The third leg of this trifecta is vivid grahics & museum quality photography. Some CTI favorites of mine are, Follow Your Heart Joe Farrell, African Cookbook Randy Weston, Straight Life Freddie Hubbard, Also , Creed spun-off even edgyier artists which a had a R&B/SOUL slant to it . KUDU RECORDS, being its answer to contemporary jazz being played with the technology of that day in Keyboards, recording, sounds, adding different rhythms and grooves . Wild Horses Rock STeady Johnny Hammond Smith, Grover Washington, Little Esther Phillips, Eric Gale, and Hank Crawford all Funky and greasy but smooth in the Pocket groove makers playing on Pop record and soul stations all over the country, many Grammy nominations and high record sales from artist who never imagine the type record sales they were now getting after signing with CTI Records.

In a sidenote many years later, Mr Creed Taylor scored again with a veteran artist ,some thought would never compromise on style and approach. He even convinced Nina Simone to record a very successful album Baltimore”. The title track was a Reggae Beat with Strings, written by Randy Newman and arranged by Dave Matthews in my opinion, one of the very best ever by CTI.

Follow this writer on http://www.hipstersanctuary.com / blues2jazz2003@yahoo.com

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JAZZ ELEPHANTS STAMPEDE!


Jazz Elephants Stampede in Temecula,California 

One of the reasons I love covering jazz artists and groups that last long enough to see growth as a group , not just the individuals. I’ve worked with Don Littleton as a spoken word artist, MC and Promoter.. This group is a can’t miss act.. Right out the gate, Elephants nda Park dug into a Monk classic ,Bye-Ya.. A 32 bar ditty with added afro cuban Clave. Powerful playing by full band, but Pianist Mahesh Balysooria, demonstrated why he is becoming a first call jazz musician in Los Angeles..Mahesh is a USC music major alum and a busy pianist around town.

Great foundation laid-out by Mahesh on piano.. He then busted into,IMHO, a cross between McCoy Tyner and Omar Sosa intense solo, followed by drums and congas trading fours before returning back to the melody. A most improbable tune I didn’t see coming was, Giant Steps by John Coltrane, into massive bullet-trains of ideas moving through those Coltrane “changes” on saxophone by Pablo Cologero, Don’s right hand man in arrangements and directions for the band musically. 

Another great tune the band tackled was a doozy by George Coleman, Amsterdam After Dark. 

This ditty works its way around a great bassline and simple melody, but the Clave took over and had the electric audience up and on their feet. They were warned in the beginning that a stampede or house on Fire might come over the evening’s activity.  This band has started to raise a lot of eyebrows in So. Cal region and is open to going on the road to showcase this great group of musicians. The Bandleader , Don Littleton , a jazz veteran on percussion and traps. He was mentored by Billy Higgins, played with George Coleman, Hank Crawford and a who’s who in music, jazz in particular. 

Don dropped his latest group recording last year, Don Littleton and Elephants Nda Park ( see CD baby or your favorite download database under Don Littleton & Elephants Nda Park)     https://youtu.be/e5tfvno-29k 

Jazz lovers in Temecula  California , have been enjoying great straight ahead jazz at the Merc for the last 12 + years, hosted and curated by Ms. Sherry Williams, Vocalist/jazz presenter.  Everybody  loves to see her smiling face in the house, because you know it’s going to be great.

Sherry and her winning personality and smile, as she goes about the business of curating some of the best musicians jazz has to offer locally. The Merc has Jazz every Thursday evening @7:30pm ..for the rest of 2021. KEY concerts: Sept. 16th. Benn Clatworthy quartet.. Sept 23rd. “SOLD OUT” Al Williams for more info go to The Merc’s Website http://www.temeculatheater.org 866-653-8696

THE SOUL OF LOS ANGELES:LOCAL JAZZ ARTISTS MAKING MOVES AGAIN


Kamaad Tauhid  @blues2jazz2003  #PocketJazz

Rita Edmonds vocalist and saxophonist Dale Fielder

 

Bobby Bradford on Coronet

Bobby West

 

Robert Johnson Blues master on his way to the Crossroads ART BY Sam Pace

Mz. Santamaria strings of Fire!

SISTAS’ DOIN’ IT : FIREY STRING SISTAS!


Coming April 20th 2019  a creative, diverse Jazz chamber-like Improvisational music in an all-female band . I will be chatting with the founder and leader of this band of stellar musicians, Ms. Nioka Workman and the Firey String Sistas, they also include the offspring of legendary jazz musicians.. follow us on http://www.hipstersanctuary.com

POCKET JAZZ: GRASSROOTS ARTS PROJECT DEBUTS AUGUST 2019

Pocket Jazz is a coined phrase created by Carmack that melds theater,improvisational music and poetry into a big ball of creativity for open minded audiences. If you dig Kamasi Washington or Horace Tapscott or Amiri Baraka, Last poets, Watts Prophets and Sun Ra.. brought to you in an affordable, safe and warm community environments. In the tradition of the Black Arts Movement early beginning of Los Angeles Community Jazz organizations paired with the painters, sculptors and actors creating on demand Art.. Subscribe and follow us on http://www.hipstersanctuary.com  FREE!! FREE!! FREE!!


Producer Robert J. Carmack looks to bring his brand of Jazz,Poetry and Dramatic performances to the L.A. Jazz community.

Pocket Jazz is a coined phrase created by Carmack that melds theater,improvisational music and poetry into a big ball of creativity for open-minded audiences. If you dig Kamasi Washington or Horace Tapscott or Amiri Baraka, Last poets, Watts Prophets and Sun Ra.. brought to you in an affordable, safe and warm community environments. In the tradition of the Black Arts Movement early beginning of Los Angeles Community Jazz organizations paired with the painters, sculptors and actors creating on demand Art.. Subscribe and follow us on http://www.hipstersanctuary.com  FREE!! FREE!! FREE!!

posted by Kamaad Tauhid @blues2jazzguy                                              Blue Note Tribute Logo

Coming in August celebrating the 80th anniversary of the grand Jazz label 

SPIRITS OF THE UNSUNG: HOMAGE TO BABA HORACE TAPSCOTT


SPIRITS OF THE UNSUNG: A Homage to Baba Horace Tapscott

By Robert J. Carmack   #@blues2jazzguy

 One has to keep “YOUR EAR TO THE GROUND” or, listen for the TALKING DRUMS. That will help you to stay on top of who the movers and shakers are in real jazz events of LA.

I’m certainly no stranger to the underground or “Grassroots” happenings of Leimert Park and other venue pockets scattered throughout the city. Japan Town, Highland Park, San Fernando Valley and Long Beach are just the latest cities emerging with new energy.

One of the hottest jazz venues in the city of Los Angeles is The World Stage, an intimate performance gallery for presenting top-shelf jazz, performance poetry and other performing arts and exhibits of some of the finest artisans in the state or world even.

At a recent birthday celebration and Homage to Horace Tapscott held at the World Stage on his birthday (April 6th), I got a chance to briefly speak with a few longtime members of the Pan Afrikan Peoples ARKESTRA.

Bandleader and eldest member in longevity (since 1966) Jesse Sharps-saxes, flutes and miscellaneous woodwinds: Jesse is a L A born musician from Watts who sat-in and listened to the early beginnings of The Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra until he earned his stripes and paid his dues as every young musician must do.  “Post-1965 Uprising” a great spot was spawned in the heart of Watts called, the Watts Happenin’ Coffeehouse on 103rd street. Raw talent developed, in the jazz jam sessions, poetry and theater arts workshops, creative writer programs. A real bright moment for us young artists who were part of a revolutionary Black Arts Movement beginning in the mid-late 1960s Los Angeles. That venue was followed by “The Gathering” on Western & Vernon Ave. and formation of UGMAA and other branches to ARK.

Many old school players were a big part of the musical clan that gathered at all the community festivals and churches that opened their doors to Tapscott and his Eclectic group of players. Most “Ark” members are bandleaders themselves or, play on an elite basis with the great ones.

Michael and Mekala Session: Father & son musical team; Michael: “We are especially proud of what happens after experiencing the Blackness, Unity and Creative Magic that made up the sound of the “Arkestra” during the early 1974 to present. The legacy is the community itself and its love and embrace of these musical Griots. “Man..All that sound hitting you , makes you feel like you could do anything creative after that experience” 

Mekala Session; drums,percussion, In the beginning for me when I was just a pup growing up, I did not take it seriously, but as I grew and spent my time embracing the magic and spiritualism of the people surrounding me including my dad..I said to myself, What was it Horace might have been thinking when he was in his early 20s and creating all kinds of great music.”  A Mekela Session 1

“Today in the Ark , Cats closer to my age, I’m surrounded by “crazy musicians” who are trying to represent the ” Hood” in terms of the high bar that was set long before even my Dad joined the band, or Black Arthur Blythe, Jesse Sharps, Sabir Mateen, Troy Robinson, Adele Sabastian, Nate Morgan, etc.

While he was still in his twenties, Horace Tapscott gave up a successful career in Lionel Hampton’s band and returned to his home in Los Angeles to found the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, a community arts group that focused on providing affordable, community-oriented jazz and jazz training. Over the course of almost forty years, the Arkestra, together with the related Union of God’s Musicians and Artists Ascension (UGMAA) Foundation, were at the forefront of the vital community-based arts movements in black Los Angeles. Some three hundred artists—musicians, vocalists, poets, playwrights, painters, sculptors, and graphic artists—passed through these organizations, many ultimately remaining within the community and others moving on to achieve international fame. Based primarily on one hundred in-depth interviews with current and former participants, The Dark Tree is the first history of the important and largely overlooked community arts movement of African American Los Angeles. Brought to life by the passionate voices of the men and women who worked to make the arts integral to everyday community life, this engrossing book completes the account began in the highly acclaimed Central Avenue Sounds, which documented the secular music history of the first half of the twentieth century and which the San Francisco Examiner called “one of the best jazz books ever compiled.”

Jesse Sharps with Bobby West in rear

Horace Tapscott

I can only wonder what it would be like if.. Horace, Billy Higgins  were still alive to see whats become of their fruits of their labor in the beginnings.. How many practice sessions by Horace at 4:AM in morning at old World Stage building in the dark, running passages and ideas flowing like a fountain geyser. Billy Higgins doing his task every saturday, whenever he was in town bringing top flight jazz musicians to expose the youth to, Guys that were his peers, like Benny Maupin, Jabali Hart, Eddie Harris, Jackie McLean, Barry Harris, Cedar Walton, Charles Lloyd just to name a few , those workshops were classic and memorable. Part of the reason we still celebrate the greatness of the man, but more importantly we celebrate the legacy of the Community because that’s where Horace was coming from on a spiritual note.

 

JAZZ FOR R&B LOVERS: MUSIC FOR AFTER THE AFTER PARTY


posted by Robert J. Carmack   #@blues2jazzguy  #Precious:For Lovers & Dancers

I can hardly remember but, over the last 5 -10 years we’re  missing a lot of male jazz vocalists input. Rudi Mwongozi is constantly moving up the chain of new faces and voices on the scene.. Rudi, now based in New York from Oakland, California. I’m coming at this for a second bite. After living with this latest CD of pianist/vocalist Rudi Mwongozi, I can fully appreciate what he’s doing musically.

In my opinion, of the twelve cuts on this project, I like them all. Part of this recording has some very popular songs by elite artists Like, Eric Clapton, the gold record  Free by Denise Williams/S. Greene. He really gives this song a jolt of Mwongozi(ness). the arrangement opens with a similar intro, followed by a very classy bridge and vamp. Then he breaks out in a Afro-latin rhythmic vamp which sets up an extended solo in piano wizardry and percussive rhythms.  Another favorite is his strong harmonic approach to a syncopated piece called, Whole Steps to the House of Light, filled with musical trap doors and breaks,that swings and jumps like the pioneers use to do. I got a big kick out of the eclectic cut, the James Moody Story . a Be-Bop swinger. harkens me back to the James Moody and Eddie Jefferson style of vocalese and scat singing by Rudi and Friends.  Rudi takes on a brave arrangement of a Luther Vandross composition and handles it with delicacy and panache. He’s rolling 7s on this tune. He chose not to do what many so-called smooth jazz artist do in regurgitation of the original song,by performing it  note for note instrumentally. I was amazed at his treatment of vocalizing with his very fine jazz piano chops added, he really soars on this song like no other male Jazz artist out there.

Knowing Rudi from my days living in Oakland, California and producing jazz shows with unique themes of legendary artists works. we performed on a show paying homage to the great saxophonist, Jackie McLean compositions. A wide plethora of unique compositions in various meters and styles which paid respect to Jackie’s legacy. Be sure to cash in on a Rudi’s original Precious:When the Morning Comes and Bad Habits.

I had to push you closer to this prized project, The Music for After the After Party. what a concept, so early in the morning and then again, very late too. so the perfect menu of music for that romantic part of the morning where you listen to some swing, followed by some slow romantic tunes to Hug your “sweetie” to. Follow Rudi MWONGOZI on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rudi.mwongozi or, right here at, http://www.hipstersanctuary.com

MAIA !! TAKES THE WORLD STAGE BY STORM COMING SOON INTERVIEW WITH MAIA.


posted by Kamaad Tauhid  #@blues2jazzguy

https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipPSU2-wVRzY9l48Hml_efp_oC8MWMm5I-C8LTHJ

 

 

I’ve been around music since I was a pup. I been around jazz since 1963, musician, actor, producer and poetry.  MAIA.. is a woman, and a group of very talented ladies that hit all the marks for me. I have not seen anybody that bring the soul, from the grassroots level like this group in a very long time. First off, You got to acknowledge the leader’s organic approach to jazz improvisations. a very percussive Vibist, but sweet melodic flute player as well, and gutsy vocals. all of their rich harmonizing skills were on display last Saturday (March 2)night. at least 4 ladies sing from lead or duets, to background. I was blown away by the “Sweet Honey in the Rock ” type version of Nina Simone’s song , Four Women”. Their jazz chops are beyond reproach, along with their arrangements harkens me to wonder, Why aren’t we hearing more about this “ladies-only group releasing spiritual jazz and potent vocals. one of the highlights of the group is, they have several generations of musicians including the leader’s granddaughter on vocals and piano. .

Members are MAIA- Vibes, Flute, Vocals, sometimes Harp, Shanta-Bass, Mbira and vocals, Aankha Neal-Vocals/Piano, Tamina Johnson- Vocals /Piano, and Aisha Gaillard Drums/percussions

Coming soon, a sit down with MAIA! leader, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist. In April 2019…

COMING AUGUST 2019..POCKET JAZZ EVENTS by Robert J. Carmack     follow us on http://www.hipstersanctuary.com

The CAL TJADER LEGACY CONTINUES!! SOUL SAUCE at ROSCOE’S JAZZ LOUNGE


SANDRA BOOKER TORCHES L.A. SUPPER CLUB, THE GARDENIA ROOM


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