đź“Ł News Creed Taylor: 1929-2022

August 22, 2022 marked the passing of legendary jazz producer Creed Taylor. Active in the music industry for decades, he left a lasting impression on the world of jazz. He passed away in Germany, while visiting family, from heart failure following a stroke. He was 93 years old.

1661722124100.pngTaylor was born on May 13, 1929 in Lynchburg, Virginia, gaining an affinity for jazz at a young age through remote radio broadcasts from Birdland (the New York City jazz club) on his local radio. Creed played trumpet in his high school’s marching band and orchestra. He attended Duke University to pursue a degree in psychology, but those Duke due to its renowned music program. He performed with the university’s jazz ensembles during his time at the university.

Post-graduation, Taylor relocated to New York City with the intention of becoming a record producer. A fellow Duke alumnus was running Bethlehem Records at the time, and that was Taylor’s introduction to the music industry. After producing a successful record by vocalist Chris Connor, Taylor became head of the label’s A&R (artists and repertoire) department. During his stint at the label, he recorded such artists as Charles Mingus, Oscar Pettiford, Herbie Mann, the J.J. Johnson-Kai Winding Quintet, Milt Hinton, Urbie Green, Ruby Braff, and others.

Here is “Out of this World,” from Bethlehem album BCP13, by Kai Winding and J.J. Johnson, predating the many times both musicians would appear in his productions:



Leaving Bethlehem Records in 1956, Taylor joined ABC-Paramount, eventually forming the subsidiary label Impulse! and recording such classic jazz albums as Oliver Nelson’s Blues and the Abstract Truth, Ray Charles’ Genius + Soul = Jazz, Gil Evans’ Out of the Cool, and John Coltrane’s Africa/Brass, Coltrane having been signed to Impulse! by Taylor in 1960. Other artists that Taylor produced were Quincy Jones, Zoot Sims, Don Elliott, Jackie & Roy, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, and Oscar Pettiford. Taylor also recorded a handful of novelty instrumental albums as The Creed Taylor Orchestra.

“Little Pony” is featured on the album Sing a Song of Basie by Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, which set Basie's charts to multitracked vocals, with only a rhythm section for accompaniment:



1961 found Taylor on the move again, this time to Verve Records, where he would not only produce dozens of the label’s records, he would help introduce the newest music from Brazil, bossa nova, to American audiences, beginning with the Stan Getz/Charlie Byrd album Jazz Samba, with the single from the iconic Getz/Gilberto album, “The Girl from Ipanema” (sung by Astrud Gilberto) became a worldwide hit, reaching the Top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Taylor also produced records by Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Smith, Cal Tjader, Lalo Schifrin, Bill Evans, Johnny Hodges, Wynton Kelly (including the legendary Smokin’ at the Half Note with Wes Montgomery), Antonio Carlos Jobim, Willie Bobo, and (Rahsaan) Roland Kirk.

This is “Once Again (Outra Vez)” from the album Getz recorded with Laurindo Almeida, one of many fine bossa nova recordings produced at Verve by Taylor:



Creed Taylor’s style of jazz could be polarizing. Jazz purists often scoffed at his pop/jazz instincts, while those with open ears admired his mix of jazz, soul, funk, and even classical. His commercial leanings brought jazz to a wider audience, a trend that grew during his time at Verve Records. When A&M Records offered Taylor his own CTI (Creed Taylor, Inc.) jazz imprint in 1967, he took that concept further, and occasionally stumbled at the label until he found his footing. Despite that, there were albums by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Tamba 4, Nat Adderley, Paul Desmond, Quincy Jones, and George Benson, among others, that presented his vision of jazz convincingly. Taylor was also instrumental in presenting the next wave in Brazilian music to American audiences—Milton Nascimento.

1661722414373.pngThe sidemen on these recordings were a who’s who of musicians from the era—Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Ron Carter, Hubert Laws, Urbie Green, and plenty of other musicians who have become household names in jazz. Taylor’s need for a unique visual identity led to unique album packaging employing elaborate gatefolds jackets featuring the color photography of Pete Turner on the covers, with cover layout by graphics designer Sam Antupit.

When his association with A&M ended, Taylor finally got the chance to launch his own independent label as CTI Records. Financial woes and bankruptcy from a failed distribution deal with Motown and a sale to Columbia Records aside, his new label ran with the ideas he had been developing since leaving Verve. As was typical with his earlier label moves, many artists he worked with in the past followed him to CTI. In addition, his productions included records by up and coming Brazilian musicians Airto Moreira and Eumir Deodato, as well as jazz artists Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine, Kenny Burrell, Joe Farrell, Ron Carter, Hubert Laws, Milt Jackson, Chet Baker, Bob James, Jim Hall, Allan Holdsworth, Ray Barretto, and others. CTI’s soul jazz subsidiary Kudu Records featured Grant Green, Joe Beck, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Grover Washington Jr. As with his records under A&M’s wing, many of the album cover photos were provided by Pete Turner.

1661722465678.pngCTI Records would also produce hit records. Eumir Deodato’s remake of “Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)” would reach No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and also win a Grammy award), and the album it came from, Prelude, would reach No. 3 on the Billboard album chart. Other hit singles include Bob James’ “Westchester Lady,” Esther Phillips’ “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes,” and Idris Muhammed’s “Could Heaven Ever Be Like This.” Hit albums include Grover Washington Jr.’s Mister Magic and Bob James’ BJ4.

The label remained active until 1984, and Taylor revived the label in 1989 for a handful of new releases. In more recent times, Taylor took a CTI All Stars band on the road in 2009 and 2010, the former resulting in a video release CTI All Stars at Montreux 2009. Taylor also supervised the reissue of his CDs starting in 2009, with later batches being released in 2013 and 2017 (for CTI’s 50th anniversary).

While largely inactive in recent years, Creed Taylor’s legacy lives on through the thousands of records he produced, the young musicians he employed who went on to become household names in jazz, and the numerous times his recordings have been sampled by younger generations.
 
Last edited:

Steve Sidoruk

Founder, A&M Fan Net
Staff member
Moderator

Remembering Creed Taylor​

793592c4251b232e30095f9c8f72ccaa.jpg
Creed Taylor, a visionary producer and founder of Impulse! and CTI Records passed away earlier this week. He was 93. Back in 2007, Creed and I collaborated to present CTI releases at the old All About Jazz download store. Creed also contributed his picks to our 2-part Building A Jazz Library CTI Records article (read) and we published a 3-part interview with him in 2004 (read). For more recent coverage, listen to Leo Sidran's interview or read Chris May's CTI Records: Ten Tasty Albums With No Added Sugar (Almost).
 

lj

Well-Known Member
Although the late great Creed Taylor's influence as a record producer covers most jazz genres, notably the extraordinary guitar work of Wes Montgomery, let me suggest that his greatest influence was in the promotion of Brazilian music, especially Bossa Nova. Henry Mancini said--in music the days of Cole Porter and Jerome Kern had come to an end, and into the breach came Bossa Nova. Creed's genius was his ability in putting the right musicians together into a studio to create a unique trademark sound.

Creed was the first producer to popularize Bossa Nova beyond Brazil big-time. He produced "Jazz Samba" in 1962 with Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd, which incredibly became the only jazz album in history to reach #1 on the Billboard Album Pop chart. It stayed on the Billboard charts for 70 consecutive weeks and sold 1/2 million records in 18 months.

Then in 1963 he produced the album "Getz/Gilberto. He had the wisdom of adding a female voice--Astrud Gilberto--to the "Girl From Ipanema" track and shortening the song for a single release. The result was that "Girl From Ipanema" won a Grammy for Record of the Year after its 1964 release.

In 1966 Creed produced the Walter Wanderley Trio album "Rain Forest." He knew that the "Summer Samba" track from the album needed to be released as a single immediately, and upon its release it promptly became a world-wide hit.

In 1972 Creed saw something in the Brazilian Eumir Deodato. He realized he could become more than just a splendid arranger as he was for Sinatra, Jobim, and Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. So Creed signed Deodato to a contract and the rest is history. Deodato's "Prelude" album featuring the 2001 Theme became the biggest all time seller for Creed's CTI Records. And the 2001 Theme single went to #2 on the BIllboard singles Hot 100 chart--the highest position ever for a Brazilian performer.

There you have it. I would argue that Creed was responsible for two of the four most famous Brazilian songs recognized around the world. His were "The GIrl From Ipanema" and "Summer Samba", which join Ari Barroso's "Brazil" and Jorge Ben's "Mas Que Nada".

And in the 1970s his CTI Records was the biggest and most famous jazz label in the world, and he almost single handedly got the top jazz artists of the '70s to join his label to make jazz popular once again--as it was in days of Duke Ellington and Count Basie. This popularity would not last, but oh what an era the 1970s were for jazz. So thanks a million Creed for all these musical memories and RIP.
 

lj

Well-Known Member
Marc Myers who has a brilliant daily column on jazz, remembers Creed Taylor with a lengthy set of past interviews with Creed.


To get to the Creed Taylor interviews--navigate to August 24, 2022.
 

jazzdre

Well-Known Member
Wow, another legend gone, but he lived a very long life and lived to see his legacy live on and finally get respected. I know about the controversy regarding Taylor and his career; that he somehow "bastardized" jazz with his melding of pop, R&B, funk and even light rock and disco(!) along with orchestrated music, a FUSION if you will with all these styles along with jazz, but for all the controversy, it worked! He made stars out of Stan Getz, Wes Montgomery, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, Milton Nascimento, Antonio Carlos Jobim, George Benson and a host of other musicians too numerous to mention.

He brought jazz to the masses, and with all the beefing and moaning of the critics who complain about what he did, they didn't take jazz to the public-he did! He showed that jazz can be enjoyed by the public in the same way they enjoyed pop, classical, easy listening and yes even rock! And who could forget those brilliant, innovative Antupit/Turner album covers! As classy as the music itself was, so was the packaging of the albums with these gentlemen at the helm.

I could go on and on, but I think I'll stop right here. Suffice it to say, his music is being discovered by a new generation of open minded music lovers, and also his music gets sampled by hip-hop, house, and electronica music producers who know great music when they hear it. Rest in Power and Peace, sir ; you made thousands (perhaps MILLIONS) of people happy with your productions, and they will enjoy the music for many years to come.

Man, this year has been the year of death! I just found out that another jazz legend passed away- the legendary Joey DeFrancesco! We are really losing the greats.

Rest In Peace to both of you gentlemen.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
Thread Starter
DeFrancesco was a shocker--he certainly wasn't that old!

Suffice it to say, his music is being discovered by a new generation of open minded music lovers,

That's the key--open-minded. Creed knew good jazz--his early days after founding Impulse! produced some classics that remain in high regard today, like the Gil Evans Out of the Cool, Oliver Nelson's Blues and the Abstract Truth, Coltrane's early releases, etc. He could have gone on producing the same type of music all his life and done well with it. But it's clear that his vision was elsewhere, and his time at Verve not only challenged the jazz listeners, it brought the music to new audiences. Nothing wrong with that.

The problem I see with jazz is that there are some listeners who have such tunnelvision that, for instance, they want Blue Note artists to keep on making the exact same album year after year after year, and some of the labels were guilty of that also. That's why I sometimes get put off when someone starts bringing up "the jazz tradition" in discussions--it just seems like a restrictive and even a snobbish term for some artists and listeners who refuse to let go of the past.

He did have his missteps along the way--some of the early CTI albums on A&M were duds, but I find those more a product of Taylor experimenting and trying to find his niche than anything else. It took him about three years to finally find a system that worked for him--despite some early successes (Jobim, Tamba 4, Wes, etc.), he really didn't have a consistent "house sound" album-to-album until near the end of his A&M run. Stonebone is the perfect example, as are both of the Quincy Jones titles. Many of those post-A&M albums in the first year or two have a similar feel to them.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
The problem I see with jazz is that there are some listeners who have such tunnelvision that, for instance, they want Blue Note artists to keep on making the exact same album year after year after year, and some of the labels were guilty of that also. That's why I sometimes get put off when someone starts bringing up "the jazz tradition" in discussions--it just seems like a restrictive and even a snobbish term for some artists and listeners who refuse to let go of the past.
That's me to some extent. You'll recall, although I liked the Herbie Mann CTi (which I purchased in HS) and of course the two Jobims (from Jr. High), once I entered college and discovered the world of Prestige and impulse!, I quickly lost interest in CTi and Verve. It took many years, actually, to learn to appreciate Creed's jazz+pop amalgam. As for wanting the same BN album over and over; that's not really true of us jazz purists (at least me and my LP friends)...it's more of simply a desire to create within the realm of those musical elements that underscore what came to be known as "jazz". Surely, art is evolving and as such the definitions are dynamic; nevertheless, there are certain base elements that must be present -- or it's no longer jazz. In jazz, for instance, first and foremost improvised melodies and evolving, dynamic rhythm must be present. After that, it become widespread subjective "is and is not" arguments... Recall in the 1940s when bebop came on the scene it was not initially recognized as "jazz" -- it was "bebop".
 
Top Bottom