[This post was a day late due to the holidays.]
In December 1995, Billboard magazine issue featured a tribute to Quincy Jones “Quincy Jones: A Half Century Of Music” featuring an expansive interview with Quincy by Mark Rowland. Including numerous full page advertisements, it runs 34-pages. Not only is Creed Taylor not mentioned, but in it’s listings and discography, everything prior to Quincy’s signing with Mercury Records is omitted, even his first album recorded with Creed in 1957, is only listed as a 1974 re-release.
This among other sources has always made me wonder about the relationship between Quincy Jones and Creed Taylor. Their paths crossed more than a few times in the 1950’s. What’s clear is that Taylor had a vision for the type of popular music/jazz he believed would be a success. Jones already had a solid background as a writer, orchestrator, and trumpeter. They could have been a match made in heaven, or the could have been rivals, I though it might be fun to try and work it out.
I was hoping to find something in Quincy Jones lavish biography, “The Complete Quincy Jones: My Journey & Passions”. Sadly I was disappointed.
The book itself is a fascinating insight into arguably one of the major music figures of the second half of the 20th century. I was lucky enough to get an almost mint copy of the book, signed by Quincy, dedicated to Jonathon Blake, who I don’t know. The book contains a fascinating selection of inserts, everything from a school report, from what we now know as Berkley School of Music. Quincy was a straight-A student. Among the inserts were a number of pages from Quincy’s 1955 calendar.
I read through the entries carefully, there on December 27th, 1955 was “Call Creed T.”. That’s it. No other mentions of Creed in the book.
In an era where we do everything by email, social media and online video, it would be hard to piece together my relatively humdrum days from my electronic footprint, let alone my calendar. There, mostly in pencil, was Quincy’s agenda, reminders, even phone umbers.
The Second City Connection
Quincy Jones was born in Chicago in March, 1933. As of 2021, he has won 28 Grammy awards, and 80 Grammy nominations.
In 1953, as a 20-year old, Quincy Jones was touring the world with Lionel Hampton’s band, along with Art Farmer, as well as others that would go on to record for Creed Taylor productions. His earliest recordings were from these tours, including titles released as “Quincy Jones and His Swedish – American All Stars”, as well as other titles. Many of which were recorded for and released originally in Sweden on the Metronome label. Coincidentally, CTI and Metronome agreed a joint distribution agreement in 1972.
In 1954, Jones would continue to write, and arrange, including with Harry Lookofsky as leader, on a number of Epic records releases. Lookofsky, a fiddle player would go on to become a core member of the CTI strings, playing violin. On those same Lookofsky releases was Billy Taylor on piano and Oscar Pettiford. Creed Taylor confirms that at this time, Quincy worked with Creed and Oscar Pettiford on Creed’s third Bethlehem “Oscar Pettiford“. This came after two successful Chris Connor albums. The Pettiford album includes Jones track “Golden Touch”.
In 1955, Creed Taylor would produce the first albums for ABC-Paramount, including Urbie Green who would later also be part of Quincy Jones band, and decades later record for CTI. 1956, Creed would start to record Billy Taylor, including the innovative “Live At The London House” in Chicago, a live set. That would be followed by “My Fair Lady Loves Jazz” by the Bill Taylor Trio, conducted by Quincy Jones, also featuring Gerry Mulligan.
1956 saw Jones go overseas as a musician, arranger, and musical director of Dizzy Gillespie’s band, on a US State Department overseas tour. Quincy left the band after the South American leg of the tour which ran for 30-days from July 25th, to August 17th. The tour is captured on a 3-volume CD, issued in 1999.
Quincy left the band after the South American tour. ‘I could’ve gone on balling with Dizzy, but I had writing to do and I wanted to spend some time with my family,’ he explains.
Already too he had received an award — voted New Star Arranger of 1956 in the ‘Encyclopedia Of Jazz’ poll — although this now seems smallish by comparison with everything showered upon him since then.
Soon after this came the call from Creed Taylor, the record producer at ABC Paramount. Was Quincy ready to make a big band LP of his own jazz works? ‘The day after Creed called I started planning the parts for my ‘This Is How I Feel About Jazz’ album’.“Quincy Jones” Biography by Raymond Horricks, P38 – ISBN 0-87052-215-9 (USA)
1957 saw Quincy Jones record and release his first album produced by Creed Taylor, “That’s How I feel About Jazz”; the album included Herbie Mann, Phil Woods, Charlie Mingus, Billy Taylor, Zoot Sims, Jimmy Cleveland, Art Farmer, Urbie Green and Milt Jackson. Quincy would go on to do the arrangements for second city jazz vocal duo Jackie Cain & Roy Kral, who had just left the Charlie Ventura Big Band. Later in 1957 Quincy signed for Mercury Records, and would go back to Europe.
In 1960, Quincy Jones organized and booked a ten month road tour of Europe. As big band leader, Jones was ultimately on the hook to support and pay not just the 18-piece band, but the complete 33-person organization with the band overseas. Quincy was struggling to fund getting the band back to the US, after a French promoter vanished and didn’t deliver a 16-night series. Having lost $145,00, he had to sell the rights to his music publishing and borrow money to get the troupe back on the ship, the SS United States.
Creed and Quincy wouldn’t work together much in the 1960’s. Their next album together would be one of the four albums Creed produced to launch the Impulse! label in 1961, recorded on December 26th and 27th, 1960, Ray Charles “Genius + Soul = Jazz“, which was arranged by Quincy. The band was almost the Basie Orchestra minus the Count, but with Clark Terry, Thad Jones, Fathead Newman, Frank Foster, Roy Haynes, Phil Woods and Urbie Green.
Jones would sign-on in 1961 as Musical Director, and A&R for Mercury records, over the next 4-years Jones would rise to Vice President at Mercury. Jones would record “Quintessence” for Impulse in 1963, it was though produced by Bob Thiele after Creed had left to run Verve Records.
1966 would see Quincy and Creed, again on a new label Verve, credited for “The Deadly Affair (The Original Sound Track Album)” which was written, arranged and conducted by Quincy. It included the bossa nova theme song, “Who Needs Forever“, performed by Astrud Gilberto. It’s unlikely Creed had much to do with the music though. The Sixties would be rounded off with Jones increasingly focused on film soundtracks and television themes.
Finally, in 1969, Jones would again come back to record an album with Creed Taylor, on a new label, this time A&M/CTI. That album/ “Walking In Space“, Quincy Jones first Grammy Award win for “GRAMMY BEST LARGE JAZZ ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE”. The band members would include many past and future Creed Taylor alumni, including Freddie Hubbard, Kai Winding, J.J. Johnson, Hubert Laws and Eric Gale. Most interestingly, perhaps, it introduced Jones’ protégé, Bob James who would become key to the next phase of Creed Taylors productions.
Although Patti Austin is a god-daughter of Quincy Jones, at the time she sang vocals on Quincy’s 1978 album “Sounds … And Stuff Like That!!” she was just completing her fourth album for CTI. After her contract expired, Jones signed Patti Austin to his Qwest label.
RW: You didn’t have any taste for it[Mercury Records and Movie soundtracks] after it went so well?
Jones: No. No way. That’s where I wanted to be since I was a child. But then this movie cycle started to get kind of grinding on me a little bit.
So Creed Taylor and A&M came up and they just said, “How about doing a record?” And at that time I said, “Record -great!” And I didn’t care about it. Wasn’t even thinking about it. And we came in here and we did “Walk Into Space.” I just wanted to see, get off on hearing the rhythm section groove with my favorite musicians. So it was just like a breath of fresh air to do that record. And these were all done in between like a week or so.
And as of, I guess about a year and a half ago, I stopped doing films and got full into records, and I really like it.Record World Interview with Quincy Jones – November 13th, 1976 Page-17, P61.
Quincy Recorded Gula Matari for A&M/CTI in 1970, produced by Creed Taylor, and released after Creed had left to go independent. The album was Grammy nominated in four categories. Interestingly the album cover did not include the CTI logo, although inside the gatefold and the labels carried Creed’s signature; the labels also include the CTI logo printed as standard A&M labels. As far as I am aware, that marked the end of their recording relationship, unless you know better?
Given the lack of context in Jones biography and the lack of a Creed Taylor biography, we are left with just a short paragraph from Marc Myers extensive interview with Creed for jazzwax.com
JW: Were you ever concerned that artists might not share your vision?Marc Myers Interviews Creed Taylor, May 12th, 2008 – https://www.jazzwax.com/2008/05/interview-creed.html
CT: I never thought about it. The artists were all interesting, intelligent guys. One of my best friends in the early 1950s was Quincy Jones, who knew everyone. Quincy had just come in from Chicago, and I had just come up from Virginia. Soon after I started I signed Oscar Pettiford to Bethlehem. Quincy, Oscar and I planned the first Oscar date [Bass by Pettiford] at Charlie’s Tavern.
[Note, “Bass by Pettiford” was not released until 1957. It also includes “Golden Touch”, the dates and everything else that can be established suggests that the above note referring to Bass by Pettiford is incorrect, and more than likely should refer to the first Oscar Pettiford album on Bethlehem, BCP-1003,recorded in 1954.]
It’s impossible to guess what that 1955 telephone call was about, it might have been about recording Quincy’s 1957 album; it might have been about any number of other things, we’ll never know.
If you read this and have any insight into the relationship between two of the great jazz producers of the 20th century, leave a comment or send feedback.
Quincy Jones [via grammy.com]
“Quincy Jones” +”Creed Taylor” recordings [via Discogs]
Books and magazines about Quincy Jones [via ebay]
Update: 12/29/20 16:57 – numerous updates, added detail about Patti Austin; added quote from Raymond Horricks biography; added dates for Dizzy in South America.
Update: 3/17/21 14:26 – minor typos, omissions etc.