It was with some sadness that I read on Instagram that Margo Guryan had passed away.
It would be simple to remember Margo as a song writer and lyricist from the sixties; to wax lyrical about the importance and influence of her 1968 album “Take A Picture“, which took 30-years to be discovered; or remember her as the writer of “Sunday Mornin’“, the 1967 hit by Spanky & Our Gang, as most websites will. She was much more than that, and deserves to be remembered as such, especially in relation to jazz and Creed Taylor productions.
This mix/show includes many of the tracks written by Margo from her involvement with the 1959 Lenox School of Jazz program, the track she wrote for Chris Connor while still at university, and a number of others, the majority of which came before her Spanky & Our Gang hit, and her own “Take A Picture” album. Press play and read on.
Playlist and track description can be found at the end of this article.
The rookie writer in me tried to do an email interview with Margo in August last year, with help from her stepson, Jonathan Rosner. As I admitted in my apology email “I’ve gathered so many questions [about Creed Taylor at that time] I couldn’t find answers for, I mistakenly just sent them along hoping for the best.” Margot wasn’t up for spending hours responding to dozens of imprecise email questions. What she did do was respond with some useful information about the recording and production of Frishberg’s “Oklahoma Toad” album Oklahoma Toad – Dave Frishberg – Creed Taylor Produced (ctproduced.com). My major mistake though was not recognizing Margo for who she is, rather than what she did.
Sadly, It was announced while I was writing this, that Dave Frishberg passed away on November 17th, 2021 https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/17/arts/music/dave-frishberg-dead.html.
Rather than cover the same ground as other will undoubtedly do, pretty much everything from Margo’s “Sunday Mornin’ ” hit forward, I’m going to focus on what I’d learned about Margo’s jazz endeavors, both from last year’s Frishberg research, and also what I’ve learned since. Almost all of that came before “Sunday Mornin’“. Priscilla Frank did a good piece for HuffPost in 2018, but like most, completely skipped the significance of Margo’s jazz years One-Album Wonder Margo Guryan Didn’t Fade Away. She Escaped. | HuffPost Entertainment.
The liner notes from the CD release of “Take A Picture” CD booklet for “Take A Picture rerelease via archive.org it start’s
Margo was born in a suburb of New York, about a fifty-minute ride from Manhattan. She began piano study at the same time she entered first grade, at age six, and continued through high school and college (Boston University). Though her piano lessons were strictly classical, pop music was a major attraction, and Margo was playing ‘by ear’ and ‘making up’ songs at an early age. By the time she finished high school and entered college, she had fallen in love with jazz.Liner Notes – Take A Picture (c) 2000 Dartmoor Music, Arista Records, Inc.
Margo was in fact born in September 1937 in Far Rockaway, just a stone’s throw from East Atlantic beach and boardwalk and equidistant to Rockaway Beach and boardwalk. Must have been an epic time to have been a teen in the fifties. Think “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”Watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – Season 1 | Prime Video (amazon.com) which also has some great New York City club re-creations in episodes for those who can’t imagine what New York City was like at the time.
Margo Goes To Work
By 1957, at the time just 19-years old, Margo was offered a contract by George Wein, the owner of the Storyville nightclub in Boston. Guryan’s Father retained an attorney who advised shopping Margos’ work around in NYC, which lead to Herb Eiseman, of Frank Loesser’s company, Frank Music. Herb felt Margo’s songs would be better with a Jazz label like AtlanticMargo Guryan | Interview – It’s Psychedelic Baby Magazine.
Margo went to audition for Jerry Wexler and Ahmet Ertegun, at Atlantic Records. It was announced in Cash Box magazine, in the R&B Ramblings column on page-56 “Atlantic has also announced the signing of the Jazz Modes and Margo Guryan for the LP line.”Cash Box – October 5th, 1957 – p56. She was recorded the same day by Tom Dowd.
It turned out that Margo didn’t enjoy performing live and this not only impacted Margo’s contract with Atlantic, but also changed her major at Boston University from piano to composition. Instead of an artist contract, Guryan stayed on as a writer for Atlantic. MARGO GURYAN: INTERVIEWED BY NOBODY (07.20.10) – dublab CD booklet for “Take A Picture rerelease via archive.org. Her dislike of performing would become a central theme of her career.
One of the tracks from the Atlantic impromptu session, “Moon Ride“, recorded by Dowd, would become Guryan’s first record performed by a star, in this case, Chris Connor, as the b-side to her 1958 hit, “Under Paris Skies“Chris Connor – Under Paris Skies / Moon Ride| Discogs.
For Connor’s last album on Atlantic, the 1962 “Free Spirits“, Guryan had two tracks included, “Milano” and “Lonely Woman“. Of these, “Lonely Woman” become a signature track of Guryan’s early writing and was recorded by many artists. Not everyone was a fan though. In reviewing the album for his book “From Birdland To Broadway” Bill Crow wrote:
Free Spirits, with Al Cohn at the podium, put the focus on jazz composers, from the tried-and-true, Like Ellington’s “Jump For Joy” and “I’m Gonna Go Fishin’,” to the unexpected, such as Leiber and Stoller’s blues “Kansas City,” to the experimental, such as a set of lyrics by one Margo Guryan to the Modern Jazz Quartet’s classic “Milano.” Nothing ever got more offbeat than Miss Guryan’s attempt to pin words to Ornette Coleman’s free jazz dirge “Lonely Woman.”From Birdland to Broadway : scenes from a jazz life – Bill Crow, 1992. New York Press. ISBN 0195069889From Birdland to Broadway : scenes from a jazz life : Crow, Bill : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
The story of how the lyrics for those tracks were written goes back a couple of years to 1959. It isn’t quite as pedestrian as someone sitting down with jazz tracks in an office on New York’s music mile and writing lyrics to them.
School of Jazz-Connections
The Lenox school of Jazz in Lenox Massachusetts was an annual summer program that ran between 1957 and 1960. The music barn Music Barn | Lenox History had been a concert location, but Jazz was at the forefront for those 4-years Music Inn – The Lenox School of Jazz | Lenox History. John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet and Gunther Schuller were the school’s founders.
Margo graduated from Boston University in 1959 with a Batchelor of Arts degree in Music, and that summer spent 3-weeks at the Lenox School of Jazz. Margo and her group from Brooklyn won a scholarship in ’59 to attend the Lenox School for Jazz. She again attended Lenox in 1960, it’s last year as a school for jazz. Margo didn’t play, as far as I’m aware, on any of the recorded school performances. The only credits for Margo are as a writer. To the casual observer, you would miss that Margo both attended, performed at, and wrote for one of the most influential jazz events of it’s time. The 1959 Lenox Summer school which announced the arrival of Ornette Coleman.
Maybe Youths From B’klyn In This School
Vacation fun is the thing on the minds of most visitors to the Berkshires in August. For 43 men and two girls [sic]— the students at the unique international School of Jazz, which opens its third annual session here today— the story is work, work, work.
The students have come from twelve states— and the Persian Gulf, via Bengal, India— to learn the art of music from a faculty of modern masters that’s headed by John Lewis, musical director of The Modern Jazz Quartet. Among the other musicians taking a busman’s holiday to pass jazz tones and traditions along to a new generation are Jimmy Giuffre, Bob Brookmeyer, Max Roach, Herb Pomeroy, and jazz historian Marshall Stearns.
They’ll be teaching jazz to a group of students as varied as they are numerous. Several are up-and-coming young professionals who are favorites in their hometown areas. Margo Guryan, one of the two girls entered, is still a college student — but she’s had a song she composed recorded by Chris Connor.
The young music-makers attending the school, which has been called the most unique institution in the individualistic world of jazz, will spend three weeks working, studying and learning-by-doing. On Saturday August 29, they’ll make their public debut at the Berkshire Music Barn, at a benefit concert presented annually by the faculty and students of the school.Brooklyn Record – Friday, August 14th, 1959 – Page-5Brooklyn Record – Friday, August 14th, 1959 – Page-5
Jazz Scholarship Finals
A summer of free study at is coming closer for 45 leading student jazz musicians who have qualified as semi-finalists in the Intercollegiate Scholarship competition (See Down Beat, May 14).
Some interesting and unusual personalities have developed during the contests. One contestant eligible for the semi-finals is Margo Guryan a 21-year-old Boston University coed. She’s already a member of ASCAP (Chris (Connor recorded her competition “Moon Ride” last summer) and she is an accomplished performer as well. Margo plays piano, flute, alto saxophone, violin and assorted percussion instruments. She’s from Far Rockaway. N.Y.
The six best student jazz musicians from the 12 colleges participating will be selected by John Lewis and the faculty of the Lenox school, by reviewing the audition tapes from the 45 semi-finalists.Down Beat magazine – October 15th, 1959 Vol. 26 Issue 21Down Beat magazine – October 15th, 1959 Vol. 26 Issue 21.
Max Roach was one of the group ensemble leaders, and had asked Margo to write a composition for his group. Guryan contributed to two tracks, “Inn Time” included in the mix/show recording, and “Monk’s Sphere” Lenox School Of Jazz | Releases for the faculty-student benefit concert.
Perhaps the most famous student of the Lenox School for jazz was Ornette Coleman. Coleman and Don Cherry were in Max Roach’s group. Along with Guryan and Coleman, jazz critic Nat Hentoff was also an attendee in 1959. Hentoff had championed Colemen and got him signed by Atlantic, who sponsored their attendance that year, along with Don Cherry.
In the autumn, Coleman and Don Cherry made their New York debut at the Five Spot in New York in a quartet with Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins. The publicity and controversy that arose from their performance heralded the arrival of Free Jazz Charlie Haden on the Creation of Free Jazz : NPR. Cherry worked with Coleman, also recording a series of influential albums through 1961.
Perhaps less remembered from the 1959 school is the impact Free Jazz had on then established jazz musician Jimmy Giuffre. Giuffre had been at the school as a guest musician, hearing Coleman then, and later caused Giuffre to reconsider his whole approach and jazz style as a result. Later in 1961, Giuffre recorded albums with Steve Swallow and Paul Bley, produced by Creed Taylor.
In 1960, Margo had a slightly different experience rather than being assigned to a group with one or more master musicians, she’d been assigned to a group with Milt Jackson as the lead. Jackson had to leave early following his mother’s death, leaving Guryan to be assigned to lead the Jackson small ensemble.
Down Beat noted “The students were older and possessed a higher caliber of musicianship than in former years.” It noted that Gary McFarland a vibraharpist-composer from Boston, Mass. was a student. Also, that returning students from previous years included two specializing in composition, were David Lahm and Margo Guryan. “Miss Guryan, had two of her compositions performed by Milt Jackson’s small ensemble at the faculty-student benefit concert, which is given annually at the close of the term. The original compositions by Miss Guryan, Lahm, and Gary McFarland are promising and speak well for the School of Jazz.” One of Margo’s compositions, Milt Town, showed up in the program as Milltown Down Beat – November 10th, 1960 – Vol 27. Iss 23
Down Beat also noted that in attendance that year, either as faculty, ensemble leaders, or guest musicians were – John Lewis, Gunther Schuller, Milt Jackson, Percy Heath, Connie Kay, J.J. Jonson, Herb Pomeroy, Freddie Hubbard, Don Heckman, Jim Hall, Bill Takas, Chuck Israel, drummer Earl Zindars and Bob Brookmeyer. Bandleader Artie Shaw was in the audience for the benefit concert, and had recent bought a nearby farm in Connecticut.
The 1960 Lenox school was only saved from cancellation by Michael Bakwin, the owner of the Alvaloche Inn in the Berkshires, near the music barn. Bakwin’s parents were among the founders of the Museum of Modern Art. The family gave a grant of $5,000, which was followed by many smaller donations. The allowed the school to go ahead with funding from longer term grants from Leonard Bernstein, Chappel Music, the Goldschmidt foundation and Dizzy Gillespie. The Lenox campus owners had already sold parts of the property before the August school.
The school came to a close with the annual benefit concert and heady plans for 1961. Artie Shaw was elected to the board of trustees, along with conductor Leonard Bernstein, poet Langston Hughes, and Alan Morrison of Ebony Magazine. They had planned to extend the term to four weeks, and hold the faculty-student benefit concert at the Museum of Modern Art Down Beat – November 10th, 1960 – Vol 27. Iss 23. Of course, it didn’t happen as we now know, leaving the 1960 graduates as the last.
After the School of Music, Guryan was signed as a lyricist by John Lewis MJQ Music. her tracks would be published and licensed by MJQ until Guryan signed for April/Blackwood.
It’s not clear when Margo met Bob Brookmeyer, they would marry on September 1st,1964 and divorce two years later. If it wasn’t the school for jazz, maybe it was earlier? Brookmeyer had been a band leader at the University of Missouri, with whom Chris Connor started singing The Penguin encyclopedia of popular music via Internet Archive. If you want and iconic read about the 1950’s, read the chapter about Al the Waiter at the Half Note and the Brookmeyers in Birdland to Broadway 9From Birdland to Broadway : scenes from a jazz life : Crow, Bill : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive .
ABC Paramount, impulse! and Verve
From early on in Taylor’s ABC-Paramount period he had used the wife of Clarinetist, Tony Scott for art and design. Fran (Attaway) Scott had worked with Decca and Creed liked the work she’d done for the Modern Jazz Quartet. Among the musicians Creed was working with from around 1956 were both Tony Scott, and Bob Brookmeyer, along with Gerry Mulligan.
In Nov. 1959, Tony Scott left for the near, middle and far east on what would become a 2-year tour all over the world for the US State Department The new edition of the encyclopedia of jazz (Leonard Feather) ISBN via Archive.org. Fran Scott/Attaway left ABC-Paramount to go with Tony on his tour. Up until then, Fran had been working from a desk in Creed Taylor’s office. Shortly after Fran left, Margo Guryan was hired as administrative assistant aka Secretary to Creed Taylor. Guryan moved into Creed’s office using the desk Fran Scott had left.
According to the Grove Dictionary of American Music, Guryan helped conceive of the iconic impulse! logo The Grove dictionary of American music : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive.
The initial work for the logo can be seen especially on the cover of the 1958 Kenyon Hopkins/Creed Taylor album, “The Sound Of New York“. Featuring the earliest use of a Pete Turner photograph for Taylor. The gatefold cover opened to large typeface similar in style and color to the later impulse! logo.
On one of the glued-in booklet pages there was a black and white picture of the Rialto cinema in Times Square and bottom right, the name of a b-movie IMPULSE.
Taylor is quoted in Kahn’s book “The House That Train Built” saying
I believe the colors – the orange and black – and the exclamation point was Fran. That wasn’t me. “The New Wave of Jazz in on Impulse,” that was mine.” The orange and black was chosen for its brightness, and for the fact no other record company employed it”Creed Taylor – “The House That Train Built”The House That Train Built – Ashley Kahn, via archive.org
Guryan is further quoted on the same page
I remember he was getting the logo together. Originally it was “Pulse!” with an exclamation point. Then they found there was another label called Pulse.
Creed took the logo home and came up with what I thought was an ingenious idea. He took Pulse, put I-M in front of it and dotted the “I” so it reflected the exclamation point, an exact design reversal at the end of it.Margo Guryan – “The House That Train Built”The House That Train Built – Ashley Kahn, via archive.org
It’s clear that whatever the truth about who did what, when, yet again Margo Guryan was there at a seminal point in jazz history, the birth of the iconic Impulse! label.
Among the daily scheduling tasks that were key to recording and producing a high volume of albums over the time Margo was with Creed, travel, completing recording logs, and any other activities, Guryan was asked by Max Roach to write the liner notes for his “Percussion Bitter Sweet” album. Roach had been dismissive of Guryan when they first met at the 1959 Lenox School of Jazz. The recording sessions were in August 1961 and released in November 1961. Guryan’s liner notes from the CD rerelease, erroneously state they were written in 1962 https://archive.org/download/cd_percussion-bitter-sweet_max-roach/cd_percussion-bitter-sweet_max-roach.pdf.
Down beat, July 1961 carried the following
Verve executive Creed Taylor’s secretary Margo Guryan, is the perfect employe. A graduate of Boston University, she has a degree in music. She is a musician with jazz interests, a songwriter— her Moon Ride was recorded by Chris Connor . . .
Max Roach and John Coltrane have signed with Impulse, the jazz label of ABC-Paramount. Coltrane’s album already has been cut… John Lewis’ [MJQ]next Atlantic record will feature the pianist with groups of different sizes.Down Beat magazine – July 20th, 1961
Frishberg, Pet Sounds and God Only Knows
Margo and Dave Frishberg had been friends for some time. This would have been either through Dave’s early New York City jazz sideman sessions, and more than likely through sessions with Bob Brookmeyer. Margo was at a loose end having split with Brookmeyer, when Dave Frishberg called an invited her to come listen to a new single he had, the Beach Boys “God Only Knows“. Guryan told Klemen Breznikar of “It’s Psychedelic Baby! Magazine”
He [Frishberg] thought it was beautiful…and so did I. Walking home, I stopped at a record store to buy the Beach Boys album.Margo Guryan, Klemen Breznikar of “It’s Psychedelic Baby! Magazine” – March 2018 Margo Guryan | Interview – It’s Psychedelic Baby Magazine.
When I got home I put my newly-purchased record on; I listened to all the songs but returned to ‘God Only Knows’, which I played over and over again. Then I turned off the record player, sat down at my Wurlitzer and wrote ‘Think of Rain’…the first song I wrote in that style.
Somewhere in between their time with Verve, and Creed signing an imprint deal with Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss at A&M, Margo and Creed went in different directions. Creed, who had started with Verve in April 1961, resigned from Verve in November 1966 and signed his imprint deal with A&M in May 1967.
In early 1967, Margo played Creed some of tracks she had written and updated, following the “Pet Sounds” revelation. Taylor was busy working his way out of Verve and into A&M. At that point, Taylor didn’t have his own publishing companies.
Creed sent Guryan to CBS publishing arm, April/Blackwood, to talk to Neil Anderson’s team. There, Margo met with David Rosner, who advised Margo on publishing, licensing the songs that would, a year later would become Margo’s album “Take A Picture” and the track that would become a hit for Spanky & Our Gang, “Sunday Mornin‘”.
According to some sources, including “The heritage encyclopedia of band music : composers and their music” by William H. Rehrig The heritage encyclopedia of band music : composers and their music : Rehrig, William H., 1939- : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive, Guryan joined the staff of MJQ [Modern Jazz Quartet] Music in 1968. I’m not clear if this was just briefly or in parallel, but in January 1968, it was announced that Margo had joined April/Blackwood as a writer and lyricist.
Sunday Mornin’ – Spanky & Our Gang
Spanky and Our Gang was an American 1960s folk-rock, vocal harmony band led by Elaine “Spanky” McFarlane.
“Sunday Mornin’“, with lead vocals by McFarlane was a hit and reached No. 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1967. The highest chart placing of any of Guryan’s tracks. The track was also included on Spank & Our Gang’s second album, released in April 1968, “Like to Get to Know You” Like to Get to Know You (album) – Wikipedia. The artist Oliver would also cover “Sunday Mornin’” as a single in 1969, Oliver’s cover would reach No.35 in the Hot-100 chart.
Bob Dorough and Stuart Scharf had been bought in to work on the arrangements for the Spanky & Our Gang “Like to Get To Know You” album. A year before, Dorough would work with Frishberg on one of Frishbergs signature lyrics, “I’m Hip“, a 1966 hit for Blossom Dearie.
April/Blackwood and The Rosner Connection
January 1968 Billboard magazine carried an announcement –
A&B Signs Margo GuryanBillboard – January 27th, 1968 – P8
NEW YORK – April/Blackwood has made another step in the build-up of a self-contained staff with the signing of Margo Guryan as a writer and producer. She’s been signed by Blackwood Music to an exclusive writing contract, and its production arm, Daylight Productions, Inc., has signed her to a recording and producing contract.
Off the strength of the Spanky’ hit and her catalog of tracks, Guryan had secured a new writing contract with April/Blackwood. In March, in talking to Cash Box magazine, April/Blackwood VP Neil Anderson disclosed that Daylight had concluded a deal for Miss Guryan as an artist with an undisclosed label. She will be produced by John Hill Cash Box – March 16th, 1968.
By April, April-Blackwood would announce a partnership with Record-On Film Corp. for a series of minifilms on 16mm film. It’s first TV promotion would feature writer-performer Margo Guryan. I have no idea this was made, and if it is still available (anyone?).
In a column in the Apil 28th, 1968 San Antonio Express and Times, it was reported that
A Unique Valentine28 Apr 1968, Sun San Antonio Express (San Antonio, Texas) Newspapers.comMargo Guryan / Spanky & Our Gang 28 Apr 1968, Sun San Antonio Express (San Antonio, Texas) Newspapers.com
SPECIAL TO NAMUS ’68 [?]
NEW YORK – A unique valentine in pop music is a ditty titled “Spanky And Our Gang”, written and sung by Margo Guryan on Bell Records. People in the music business couldn’t recall another Instance of a pop artist composing, performing and titling a song in honor of another pop group.
Although Bob Dylan recorded “Like A Rolling Stone” and the Supremes waxed ‘‘The Happening”, neither tune made any reference to the pop groups in the titles. Margo Guryan had her first hit as a songwriter when Spanky and Our Gang recorded her “Sunday Morning”. The current tune, which is already garnering hefty air play, marks Miss Guryan’s
debut as a recording artist.
The record company that Anderson had hinted at signing Margo Guryan as an artist was, Bell Records. Even early in 1968, Bell Records was somewhat moribund. The company had been stagnating since the early 1960’s. Guryan’s single would be released on the Bell records, Mala Records imprint Margo Guryan – Spanky & Our Gang | Releases | Discogs and published by Blackwood music, supervisor David Rosner.
The album was released in late September 1968Margo Guryan – Take A Picture | Releases | Discogs.
October 1968: Cash Box magazine, October 19th, declared Margo Guryan their “East Coast Girl of the Week”. It said that Guryan had just had her first LP “Take A Picture,” released by Bell. “Margo, by the way, wrote “Sunday Mornin’” for Spanky & Our Gang, counts many A&R men as fans.”
Margo would again refuse to tour and perform to promote the album, Margo remembered that when [head of Bell Records] Larry Utall heard this, he stopped all promotion and the record tanked. She later saw it in the 39¢ rack in Tower Records in New York.
In June 1969, Guryan would be awarded a BMI Certificate of [Publishing] Achievement at their annual gala. Margo was pictured in Cash Box with Neil Anderson from April/Blackwood Cash Box magazine, June 14th, 1969 P30.
This April/Blackwood advertisement ran in all the trade magazines, including Cash Box and Billboard. What is remarkable about it is both how many, and how young the writing stars were, including Chip Taylor, Billy Vera, and Margo. When I spoke with Billy Vera about this period, he observed that he worked with Chip Taylor and really didn’t have much to do with Margo. He said this was typical of writing teams, they all worked in their own small groups, just as it had been at the Brill Building with Goffin and King Private telephone conversation with Billy Vera, November 16th, 2021.
In October 1969, Rosner resigned to establish his own business, with Neil Diamond. That business became Daramus Inc.
John Marine and Train Station
In October 1969, Guryan and Rosner would record and produce John Martine tracks out at Syncron Sound Studios in Wallingford Connecticut. They would be released by CTI as part of “Taylors Dozen” singles in 1970. “Train Station” and “What I Chose to Say” were released as CT506 CT 506 – Creed Taylor Produced (ctproduced.com) . “I’ve Been Robbed” was held over for an album, that Layng Martine Jr.Layng Martine Jr. – Wikipedia, John’s brother, confirmed to me was planned, but nothing ever became of it. Train Station et al. were published by the Rosner owned Daramus Inc. and published by Daramus Music.
Dave Frishberg – Oklahoma Toad
Margo would return to Creed Taylor in the spring of 1970, with David Rosner from April/Blackwood. They had a recorded, produced version of Dave Frishberg’s “Oklahoma Toad” album Oklahoma Toad – Dave Frishberg – Creed Taylor Produced (ctproduced.com). It was recorded at the Associated Recording Studios in New York in late 1969 and while Taylor liked the tracks, he insisted that prior to releasing it, he would overdub some additional material, and change the order of the tracks. The CTI released version was re-engineered and overdubbed by Rudy Van Gelder at his studios in Englewood Cliffs, NJhttps://jazzstation-oblogdearnaldodesouteiros.blogspot.com/2010/07/dave-frishbergs-cult-album-for-cti-is.html.
The Frishberg album, despite Taylor’s overdubs would remain a Daramus Inc. production and would be the only album in the CTI1000 series not to include Creed Taylor’s signature on the labels. The Frishberg album would be published by Red Day Music, Inc. Red Day seems to have been a Frishberg only publishing vehicle.
If you listen to the Frishberg “Oklahoma Toad” on Spotify https://open.spotify.com/album/2epaaDLSVYLTUvZqOYpkgn?si=2Rx5WsYMT5u1sf8v_5ASdQ or amazon music Oklahoma Toad by Dave Frishberg on Prime Music (amazon.com) and likely other streaming services, you are hearing the Daramus/Rosner/Guryan produced version, not the Taylor/CTI mix.
Elton John and Going West!
Despite or perhaps because of his success at April/Blackwood, by April 1970 it was announced that David Rosner had been appointed by Dick James Music, Inc. (DJM). Rosner would manage all music and “exploitation” activities for DJM in the USA and Canada. DJM had the right at that time to all the Lennon/McCartney songs via Maclean Music, Inc., as well as a number of others. Important here was that David Rosner would handle the introduction of Elton John in the USA, which included being Elton John’s first US Manager Record World, January 31st, 1976 P134.
Both Daramus companies would become part of the DJM Group, an acquisition Billboard April 11th, 1970 – P3Cash Box April 11th, 1970 – P7Record World April 11th, 1970 – P3/P49. Initially DJM would operate out of 1780 Broadway building in NYC.
Margo and David Rosner married in 1970Private communication with Johnathan Rosner, November 2021. They would move out to Los Angeles. Guryan continued to write, including contemporary lyrics about Watergate and earthquake songs among others. Over
Rosner/Guryan even produced other artists for their publishing and production company, “The Bicycle Music Company”. Bicycle Music is now subsumed into the Concorde Music Group. Their production effort went into the group, Van Dunson. Van Dunson included Frank Zappa and the Mother of Invention keyboard player Ian Underwood Ian Underwood – Wikipedia. Underwood had been at the Lenox School of Music with Margo 20-years earlier, in 1959.
Underwood went on to do session work with Quincy Jones, including “We Are The World“, of course, Creed had produced some of Quincy’s earliest studio albums.
Margo Guryan transitioned away from boyish, airy folk-pop singer to Los Angeles music teacher. Her album “Take A Picture” passed into musical history, becoming a collector’s item. In 2000, “Take A Picture” was re-released to much praise. In a 2007 review for “1000 albums to hear before you die”, The Guardian Newspaper(UK) described “Take A Picture” as “This justifiably cooed-over cult classic is the missing link between Astrud Gilberto and Saint Etienne.” Artists beginning with G | Music | The Guardian
The rest of Margo’s history you can read in other bio’s and obituaries, including this one from buzzbandsSongwriter Margo Guryan, whose 1968 album was ‘discovered’ three decades later, dies at age 84 – buzzbands.la. Especially the afore mentiond HuffPost article by Priscilla Frank One-Album Wonder Margo Guryan Didn’t Fade Away. She Escaped. | HuffPost Entertainment.
Unrelated to Margo’s passing, I had heard from Rough Trade there would be a re-pressed vinyl for December 10th.
It’s a double album, pressed on gold vinyl released by Modern Harmonic. It’s a repressing of their 2016 double album which was pressed with one red, one blue vinyl album and sold out quickly. Copies trade for $150 and up on used marketplaces. Described by Modern Harmonic as “an album worthy to follow Take A Picture’ two LP’s worth of magnificent soft-pop.”
Tracks include What Can I Give You • Something’s Wrong With The Morning • I Love • Sunday Morning • Can You Tell • Think Of Rain • Sun • Most Of My Life • The 8:17 Northbound Success Merry-Go-Round • Love Songs • Thoughts • I Don’t Intend To Spend Christmas Without You • Come To Me Slowly • Timothy Gone • It’s Alright Now • Why Do I Cry • Umbrella • Values • I Think A Lot About You • The Hum • Please Believe Me • I’d Like To See The Bad Guys Win • Yes I Am • California Shake • Shine • Hold Me Dancin’ • Good-Bye, July • Someone I Know (Chip Taylor Demo) • Think Of Rain (Malcolm McNeill demo)
The Mix/Show Track list
Only one of these tracks that isn’t written or co-written by Margo Guryan. Read and play-on to find out which.
Inn Tune – Ornette Coleman and group (1959) from The Lenox Summer School of ’59. One of two tracks Margo wrote for the group performance.
Time For Two – Bob Brookmeyer And Friends (1965) Bonus track on the 2005 CD Re-issue of Bob Brookmeyer and Friends, written by Margo Guryan performance features all-star cast of leaders including Getz, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter et al.Bob Brookmeyer – Bob Brookmeyer And Friends (2005, 24-bit Digital Remaster, CD)
Moon Ride – Chris Connor (1958) From the earliest of tracks written by Guryan and recorded at her initial Atlantic Records audition, later rerecorded by Chris Connor as a B-side to her 1958 single “Under Paris Skies“Chris Connor – Under Paris Skies / Moon Ride| Discogs.
Lonely Woman – Chris Connor (1962) Perhaps Margo’s most popular track from her jazz period. Presented here is the Connor version from her Atlantic album “Free Spirits“Chris Connor – Free Spirits. The orchestra performing with Chris, who was still at the top of her game at this point, having moved to Atlantic after working with Creed Taylor at Bethlehem, were NYC jazz leaders and 1st call performers, Oliver Nelson, Phil Woods, Al Cohn, Clark Terry, Joe Newman, Ed Shaughnessy and Ronnie Ball.
I Want To Sing A Song – Anita O’Day (1962) Continuing a big year for Guryan, this time it was a Creed Taylor production of Anita O’Day with his Verve team. Including photography by Pete Turner, engineering and recording by Rudy Van Gelder, Phil Woods, Gary McFarland, Bob Brookmeyer, Zoot Sims, Jerome Richardson et al. This was from O’Day’s “All The Sad Young Men” album, one of three she recorded in 1962 in what was a brief career with Taylor that never went anywhere.
Could Be – Pat Thomas (1962) Another Creed Taylor production, the enigma that was Pat Thomas. Her “Desafinado” album was arranged by both Claus Ogerman and Lalo Schifrin, recorded by Val Valetin and Phil Ramone for the then budget MGM label. Featured Thomas’s hit singles “Desafinado” and “One Note Samba“, but also Guryan’s up-tempo “Could Be“. A Pop-Jazz record at the time, show Taylor producing close to perfect female pop for the times, in contrast to the MGM released follow-up by the same team, the 1964 follow-up album, “Moody’s Mood“. That saw Thomas in a much more traditional jazz chanteuse performance.
Think Of Rain – Jackie Deshannon (1967) Calvin Carter produced album “For You” featured a closing sequence of seasonal tracks, “Merry Go Around In The Rain/Think Of Rain/Everything Under The Sun“. Guryan’s “Think Of Rain” certainly the anchor track for the sequence Jackie DeShannon – For You | Releases.
Can You Tell – Carmen McRae (1968) For McRae’s album “The Sound Of Silence”, 10-years on from Guryan’s audition for Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic, his brother, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Nesuhi Ertegun selected two of Guryan’s tracks, “Can You Tell” and “Don’t Go Away“Carmen McRae – The Sound Of Silence | Releases
Don’t Go Away – Carmen McRae (1968) – As above.
Come To Me Slowly – Julie London McRae (1969) – Guryan’s Come To Me Slowly was first released as the B-side of a fairly dire cover of the Ohio Express 1968 pop song, Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, which also became the title track for an album of the same name, which featured equally dire set of covers which also included Guryan’s “Sunday Morning”. Standing away from the album, “Come To Me Slowly” stands-up for itself. Julie London was clearly on a period of transition with this album, produced by Tommy Oliver Julie London – Yummy, Yummy, Yummy | Releases.
Lonely Woman – Freda Pain (1963) Returning to the female jazz vocal classic, this time produced by Bob Thiele for Impulse after Taylor departed from Impulse! on the “After The Lights Go Down Low” album. There was a big overlap in the 1st calls for this and Chris Connor’s Atlantic session After The Lights Go Down Low And Much More!!!.
(I’m) On My Way To Saturday – Harry Belafonte (1962). To be honest I wanted to include the 1961 Leon Bibbs version of this Guryan track. I just couldn’t find my copy. Bibb’s just does it better, this is standard Belafonte calypso style cover. From the album “The Many Moods of Belafonte“Harry Belafonte – The Many Moods Of BelafonteLeon Bibb – Leon Bibb Sings | Releases.
Van Lingle Mungo – Dave Frishberg (1969) Music and lyrics by Dave Frishberg. From his Oklahoma Toad album, which was an early release by Creed Taylor on his newly independent CTI label. Presented here is the Rosner/Guryan produced version rather than the more heavily produced and overdubbed Taylor version (which reminds me I need to rerecord my vinyl copy of the Taylor production in stereo). Oklahoma Toad – Dave Frishberg – Creed Taylor Produced (ctproduced.com)
Spanky & Our Gang – Margo Guryan (1968)
16 Words – Margo Guryan (2007) In which Margo lambasted then US President George W. Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Address. Turning 16-words from his speech, which were based on a lie, to justify the war with Iraq.
I like to think of Margo as a 1960’s peace activist, who came back to her roots. RIP Margo Guryan.
Update: 11/22/21 08:00 a.m. Added in the previously omitted note about Guryan/MJQ publishing.