Ode To Creed Taylor & CTI Records

Date: September 28, 2022
Time: 4:08 P.M. EDT

Jazz Buddies,

Hope all is well!  With the recent passing of famous label founder and record producer, Creed Taylor (1929-2022), I thought I’d offer my reflections, his impact on my love and appreciation for Jazz, and a list of my favorite tunes from the CTI label’s very fertile 1970-76 period.

First and foremost, as a high school student in the early 1970s in Motown, and starting college at U-M in fall 1974, the CTI label and its artists were perhaps my introduction to “Jazz”, as well as a gateway to many Jazz artists.  Some Jazz purists may argue that the music presented was NOT “straight-ahead” Jazz (which I discovered many years later), however, I’d proffer that it wasn’t exactly “Jazz Fusion” either, which became commercially popular in the mid-1970s (e.g., Return To Forever, Weather Report, Headhunters, etc.), employing electronics, synthesizers, and electric bass.

Nevertheless, the music being produced by Creed Taylor’s label was of the highest quality, the sound (by Rudy Van Gelder) was clean and crisp, the double-sleeve album covers and photos were appealing to the eye, the string & horn arrangements (by Don Sebesky and Bob James)
were tight, the album personnel’s print was large and complete (inviting one to read and memorize!), the musicians were top-notch, AND Ron Carter played bass on practically EVERY CTI album during this period. :v)

In fact, I began to follow the many sidemen for years to come, buying most of their albums, many of whom were a Who’s Who of straightahead Jazz on other labels (e.g., Blue Note, Milestone, Verve, Impulse, Atlantic, etc.) prior to the 1970s period.

The CTI stable of lead artists included: Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Kenny Burrell, George Benson, Hubert Laws, Milt Jackson, Eumir Deodato, Bob James, Bill Evans, Jim Hall, Joe Farrell, Chet Baker, Paul Desmond, and Ron Carter.

Creed Taylor’s sister label during that period, Kudu Records, also released outstanding albums by Grover “Mister Magic” Washington, Jr., Hank Crawford, Johnny “Hammond” Smith, Idris Muhammad, (Dr.) Lonnie Smith, and Esther Phillips, just to name a few.

Prior to this period, Creed Taylor himself was prominent for producing albums on the A&M and Verve labels for great artists, including Wes Montgomery, Quincy Jones, Jimmy Smith, and Stan Getz.

Here’s a list (in alphabetical order) of my 50 favorite tunes from the many outstanding CTI label recordings from the 1970-76 period that I played over and over again on my cheap stereo system during high school and college, staying up many a night and wearing out the grooves:

  • A Child Is Born – Kenny Burrell, God Bless The Child (1971)
  • Also Sprach Zarathustra (Main Theme From 2001: A Space Odyssey) – (Eumir) Deodato, Prelude (1972)
  • Baubles, Bangles, and Beads – (Eumir) Deodato, Prelude (1972)
  • Be Yourself – Kenny Burrell, God Bless The Child (1971)
  • Brigitte – Freddie Hubbard, Keep Your Soul Together (1973)
  • Detour Ahead – Milt Jackson, Goodbye (1974)
  • Don’t Mess With Mister T. – Stanley Turrentine, Don’t Mess With Mister T. (1973)
  • Everything I Love – Paul Desmond, Pure Desmond (1975)
  • Fantasy In D – Freddie Hubbard, Polar AC (1974)
  • Feel Like Making Love – Bob James, One (1974)
  • First Light – Freddie Hubbard, First Light (1971)
  • Follow Your Heart – Joe Farrell, Quartet (1970)
  • Here’s That Rainy Day – Freddie Hubbard, Straight Life (1971)
  • I Haven’t Got Anything Better To Do – Stanley Turrentine, Salt Song (1971)
  • I Remember You – Stanley Turrentine, Cherry (1972)
  • I’m Not So Sure – Milt Jackson, Olinga (1974)
  • Impressions – Stanley Turrentine, Sugar (1971)
  • Modaji – Hubert Laws, The San Francisco Concert (1975)
  • Moment’s Notice – Hubert Laws, In The Beginning (1974)
  • Morning Star – Hubert Laws, Morning Star (1973)
  • My Latin Brother – George Benson, Bad Benson (1974)
  • Nautilus – Bob James, One (1974)
  • No Sooner Said Than Done – George Benson, Bad Benson (1974)
  • Old Devil Moon – Milt Jackson, Goodbye (1974)
  • Peri’s Scope – Bill Evans, Montreux II (1970)
  • Piece Of Dreams – Stanley Turrentine, The Sugar Man (1973)
  • Pure Imagination – Bob James, Four (1977)
  • Red Clay – Freddie Hubbard, Red Clay (1970)
  • Rhapsody In Blue – (Eumir) Deodato, 2 (1973)
  • Salt Song – Stanley Turrentine, Salt Song (1971)
  • She Was Too Good For Me – Chet Baker, She Was Too Good For Me (1974)
  • Sky Dive – Freddie Hubbard, Sky Dive (1972)
  • Speedball – Stanley Turrentine, Cherry (1972)
  • Storm – Stanley Turrentine, Salt Song (1971)
  • Sugar – Stanley Turrentine, Sugar (1971)
  • Sunflower – Milt Jackson, Sun Flower (1973)
  • Take Five – George Benson, Bad Benson (1974)
  • Take Me To The Mardi Gras – Bob James, Two (1975)
  • The Chicago Theme (Love Loop) – Hubert Laws, The Chicago Theme (1974)
  • Theme From “Summer of ‘42” – George Benson, White Rabbit (1971)
  • Till The Clouds Roll By – Paul Desmond, Pure Desmond (1975)
  • Two For T. – Stanley Turrentine, Don’t Mess With Mister T. (1973)
  • Vera Cruz – Stanley Turrentine, Gilberto w/Stanley Turrentine (1971)
  • Very Early – Bill Evans, Montreux II (1970)
  • Westchester Lady – Bob James, Three (1976)
  • When Love Has Grown – George Benson, Body Talk (1973)
  • Where The Wind Blows Free – Bob James, Four (1977)
  • White Rabbit – George Benson, White Rabbit (1971)
  • You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To – Jim Hall, Concierto (1975)
  • You’re As Right As Rain – Bob James, Two (1975)

Thinking back, I must have financed the purchase of these individual new and used CTI albums (see photo below) over time via my Detroit Free Press paper route during high school, and summer employment at a foundry and Stroh’s Brewery as a college student… :(v

Thank you, Mr. Creed Taylor!!!  Your label’s recordings will live on forever… And have already done so, indeed!