A “Baker’s dozen” is twelve plus one.

Starting in February 1970, fifty years ago, CTI Records started releasing their CT 500 series singles. There were a baker’s dozen, plus one released with the original style green CTI labels used on on the initial release of single and albums for the newly independent CTI Records.

In this post, and linked posts, I’m going to look at Taylor’s Dozen. The curious case of the first singles released by Creed Taylor starting in 1970 and running through to early 1971. If you came across many of these 45’s while cratedigging, you’d probably wonder what they were, who they were, and mostly, what they were doing on a jazz label?

I’ll pass along some highlights for the other singles, and leave the detail for those until we come to the album releases.

CONTEXT

Possibly more than any other time in Creeds production history, music was rapidly changing. Post war austerity was over; the summer of love was breaking up; music was going electric; the Beatles had said hello and goodbye. More importantly Jazz bop had done post-bob and was moving on. Parents had money, but more importntly, so did their kids.

The music industry has always been fickle, styles change quickly, artists get dropped, swapped, and forced by contract to record and deliver albums, which as we’ll see in a future posts, sometimes never get released; this was as true at the start of the 1970’s as it is today. Switching from A&M and A&M distribution for CTI and going solo would have required Creed Taylor to do a lot of contract negotiation and legal work, using industry contracts established over the 15-years.

PLAN

At A&M, Creed had a production deal where CTI recordings would be an imprint of A&M, including recording, pressing, distribution and marketing of the work Creed was doing for them. Creed produced albums for A&M CTI through the end of 1969.  In the switch over between A&M CTI and CTI Inc. there were a number of albums that were recorded that came out on A&M CTI, some came out the following year on CTI Inc. and another couple that would not get release until much later, or only in Japan through their deal with King Records.

With Vic Chirumbolo as Vice President of Sales and Marketing, the immediate plan from Chirumbolo and Taylor, was two album series. First the 1000-series, which would be more pop oriented and sell for $4.98. The corresponding singles, the CT 500-series, with the same label style, would sell for 99¢ and discounted after 4-weeks to 75¢.

The 6000-series which would be jazz oriented and retail for $5.98. Taylor and Chirumbolo were already working on a contract with King Records in Japan, and the first releases there would go out in April 1970. They also quickly inked deals in Europe.

LABELS

The original green label and layoutThe orange/gold label

At least as the initial releases of Taylor’s Dozen rolled out, the 500-series would have green labels for general release and white promo labels for DJ/radio Station copies. The corresponding album releases in the CT 1000-series would also use the same labels and colors, but was short lived, only five albums.

The CTI 6000-series would use the green labels for its first six releases, and switched to orange/gold labels from CTI 6008. At the same time, the singles switched to the OJ-series and used the same labels.

In Europe and Canada, distributors manufactured their own releases with country/geography specific information and the green labels persisted beyond 1971 but eventually fade out as the orange/gold USA releases gained popularity and charted.

The traditional orange/gold label that most of us know from 1971 onwards came in after Creed hired Bob Ciano as Art Director. It’s unclear if this label was Bob’s design or just influenced by him. As we’ll see later, Bob hand drew the Kudu label and font.

FOLK, FUSION AND FUNK

Initially, Taylor had wanted to expand CTI beyond his more traditional Jazz roots. Taylor initially was looking for “masters to purchase”

“I would sincerely like to find some more product – especially soul, rock, and country music produced in the south”

Creed Taylor – Feb 28th, 1970 – Billboard Magazine.

Creed has been qouted many times saying something to the effect of “if it’s popular it sells, if it’s jazz it doesn’t”. Clearly at least at the start of CTI Inc. Creed would try to go beyond just jazz as well as continually trying to popularize jazz.

The initial singles came from the 1969 recordings. First was Hubert Laws recorded in Memphis; next was with folk singer, Kathy McCord, produced by Don Sebesky, recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Englewood Cliffs; the third, Flow, recorded late in December and finished in January 1970 at Van Gelder’s studio. Ultimately, Taylor wouldn’t drift very var from his Jazz roots, but in Taylor’s dozen we have some interesting examples.

Most are branded “produced by Creed Taylor”, it’s safe to assume they were, three do not carry the Creed Taylor signature, and I assume were “purchased masters”.

So, here they are, in catalogue number order, which may not reflect the actual recording or release date order. Each entry connects to it’s own post, with details and links to hear the song online where available.

(Starting with the first two singles, I’ll be adding singles as often as I can, at the end I’ll wrap up this post with a link to a mix containing the A/B-sides of the singles.)

CT 513 Stanley Turrentine – Sugar (OJ -1), CT 514 Freddie Hubbard – Here’s That Rainy Day (part 1) (OJ -2) , CT 515 Hubert Laws – Fire And Rain (OJ -3) – where never released on green or white promo labels, thus I don’t consider them part of Taylor’s Dozen.

Thanks as always to Doug Payne and all the work he put in on his CTI Records Discography which provided the impetus to complete my CTI collection, and to dig deeper in collecting the works of Creed Taylor.

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