Why was CTI Records a controversial label?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by shnaggletooth, Jan 17, 2007.

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  1. shnaggletooth

    shnaggletooth Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NJ
    An obscure Joe Farrell CD I found last week has introduced me to the CTI label. From what I've gathered, CTI was run by a guy named Creed Taylor, who also founded Impulse records. I also read some unexplained talk that the CTI label was kind of controversial. What for? Also, how did Impulse and CTI differ, if they were both jazz labels which existed concurrently and run by the same guy?
     
  2. jblock

    jblock Forum Resident

    Location:
    Connecticut
    It didn't seem controversial at the time. It was indicative of the jazz climate then. I think people may have been perturbed that folks like Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine and Milt Jackson were playing along with electric instruments.
     
  3. Todd E

    Todd E Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hollywood
    Don't know that they were any more "controversial" than any other label, but CTI's releases were, for the most part, more crossover-oriented than those of Impulse!

    A matter of taste, really. As far as I can remember, the only CTI album I own is by the Soul Flutes, which is essentially an easy listening album by Herbie Mann. And quite nice, too.

    I own a number of Impulse! albums, on the other hand, none of which probably would have fit into Taylor's CTI concept.
     
  4. Simon A

    Simon A Arrr!

    Our experts will soon join in, but I'll try to give you a basic idea. AFAIK, Taylor worked for Verve and may have worked for Impulse (but he did not found it, Bob Thiele did) and then created CTI. Speaking from the LPs that I have on that label, I can tell you that he liked echo (reverb) a lot. Some albums contain splendid music, but the reverb gives it a sort of "pop / easy listening" tone. I think this may be what the jazz consumers dislike.

    Let's see what our fellow members will say...
     
  5. glea

    glea Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bozeman
    You are exactly right. The problem was they sold like pop albums which irked hard core jazz fans. These records took the "Charlie Parker with Strings" concept to the max. I remember most of these discs flying out of the shops...
     
  6. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Location:
    Central PA
    Deodato's first 3 LP's were on CTI; very slick, full, crowd-pleasing sound. I've heard some Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Laws and Bob James titles...all "smooth jazz", albeit with some excellent soloing.
     
  7. Metoo

    Metoo Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Spain (EU)
  8. Cassius

    Cassius On The Beach

    Location:
    Lafayette, Co
    Was Impulse always an ABC thing? I thought it was an indy that was later aquired by ABC?
    C
     
  9. Todd E

    Todd E Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hollywood
    Started as the jazz wing of ABC. That's how the Ray Charles "jazz" album wound up there: to distinguish it from his pop efforts, and to help establish the label.
     
  10. Wilkie

    Wilkie New Member

    Location:
    Richmond, VA, USA
    Say what you want about the musical content, but CTI and all its sister labels (Kudu, ect.) had some of the finest cover artwork of any label ever. Most of the artwork was available for purchase as posters for $1.50. I must have sent off for a dozen or so. There's an extensive discography (with scans of covers) and a lot of background info at:

    http://www.dougpayne.com/cti.htm
     
  11. shnaggletooth

    shnaggletooth Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NJ
    Ok. But that entry says that Taylor also founded Impulse; a preceding post on this thread says that he didn't found Impulse. More Wikipedia nonsense? :confused:
     
  12. Simon A

    Simon A Arrr!

    Maybe Taylor did found Impulse after all, I am no authority on the matter, but I know that Thiele was the soul of Impulse. I got this by reading the liner notes to CDs by John Coltrane. Maybe more accurate info is available on Impulse's site...

    Wilkie is right about their cover art being fantastic!
     
  13. shnaggletooth

    shnaggletooth Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NJ
    Moonstar, is that Jane Asher in your avatar? She's a babe.
     
  14. Simon A

    Simon A Arrr!

    Indeed Lad, I think the picture dates from 1965-66. She is lovely bird! :love:
     
  15. Big Al

    Big Al Active Member

    Location:
    DFW, Texas
    I don't know if they're controversial, but I sure love a lot of the albums that came out in the early 70's on the CTI label: Freddie Hubbard, Joe Farrell, George Benson, Hubert Laws, Milt Jackson among others.
     
  16. OE3

    OE3 Forum Resident

    Freddie Hubbard's Red Clay is probably my favorite jazz album of the '70s, and it was recorded for Creed Taylor's CTI. by the way, the remaster has a great live version of the title track recorded in LA in 1971 with Billy Cobham on drums. essential!
     
  17. stanley chicago

    stanley chicago Member

    Location:
    Naperville, IL
    No doubt some of the more beautiful album jackets produced, as mentioned earlier, including this Paul Desmond SKYLARK album, and a Milt Jackson SUNFLOWER. Bob James ONE and TWO also beautiful.



    I see great simlarities between select Verve album covers and CTI album covers in the areas of design and construction. Creed Taylor worked at Verve, I believe at one point, but I am not an industry associate, so I do not know for sure.
     

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  18. kwadguy

    kwadguy Senior Member

    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    Most of the hardcore jazz fans I knew in the '70s dismissed the CTI label as too poppy to be taken seriously. Of course, that three the baby out with the bathwater, but that was pretty much the hardcore jazz party line back then.

    Kwad
     
  19. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Location:
    Central PA
    Gorgeous cover art though, don't you think?
     
  20. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    Location:
    The OC
    I liked the 'California Concert' quite a bit at the time, though I haven't listened to it since the 70's.
     
  21. Wilkie

    Wilkie New Member

    Location:
    Richmond, VA, USA
    Many of those covers were based on photographs by Pete Turner. His book, The Color of Jazz, has been out a few months. But in addition to selecting interesting photos, the heavy stock, and quality of the cover print made a stunning presentation. Most, if not all were gatefolds too. Opening a factory sealed box of new release CTI albums was always a treat...holding 30 perfectly uniform little pieces of art when that smell of freshness hit you, was always a little sweeter than the average album.
     
  22. johmbolaya

    johmbolaya Active Member

    Location:
    Pacific Northwest
    I read this somewhere, on how CTI Records arguably helped create the "smooth jazz" genre. CTI did become known for its smoothed out, pop oriented jazz, although many of the albums, including those on the Kudu subsidiary, had some incredible moments. The albums on CTI pre-Bob James were out there at times, but once Bob James brought in the hits, the label followed a pattern. It also helped to habe Bob James and the same set of musicians he played with play on sessions for the other albums. If Stanley Turrentine was sitting in, they might say "okay Stan, this is for your album".

    It's hard to say if it was controversial, because jazz was battling a lot of fights, from the jazz fusion world, to those who wanted to be traditionalists, to the slow acceptance (i.e. pop accessibility) of what would become smooth jazz. There's a lot of music on ECM from the 70's that followed the same musical trends too.

    Those jazz records from the 70's did become fodder for a lot of hip-hop DJ's and producers who found the music to be something worth listening to and producing from. One of the benefits of CTI being "controversial" is that one can find most of those albums at thrift stores and yard/garage sales. Pop success eventually leads to pop trash, so one man's trash becomes another entry into my crates.
     
  23. jblock

    jblock Forum Resident

    Location:
    Connecticut
    Agreed. Excellent album. I'm glad I got the CD while it was out years ago.
     
  24. Six String

    Six String Senior Member

    I'm not a big fan of the production/engineering of CTI recordings. I agree that they were designed to be a little more commercial which has always been a tricky area in jazz fans to swallow. The only one I own on the label is Randy Weston's Blue Moses. Intersting to me is when I bought a copy of Paul Desmond's Bridge over Trouble Water on A&M recently and it has similar production values as the CTI recordings that people are talking about. Of course, all the songs are by Simon and Garfunkle, so it will sound a little more commercial than his earlier RCA albums, but still I couldn't help notice the similarity.
     
  25. Big Al

    Big Al Active Member

    Location:
    DFW, Texas
    A&M was Creed's bridge between Verve and his own CTI. For a little while after he left A&M to start CTI, there were some remaining A&M albums that didn't bear his name, but certainly bore his production values. I don't know the technicalities behind this, though.
     
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