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Next show: Sunday 1/1/12 with Creed Taylor

Happy New Year and Habari Gani Imani! First, a quick update on what the Suga’ team has been up to. If you haven’t been over to our audio archives page yet, jump over and check it out! We’ve uploaded most of the shows that aired in 2011 and are working backwards from there to make older shows available: most of 2010 should be up over the New Year’s weekend. There will also be a few web-only extras: snippets of sound that didn’t quite make the cut for the original show for whatever reason.

The next show will air on New Year’s Day: Sunday 1/1/2012 at 11:00pm – Monday at 1:00am on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. Listen to the 45-second promo below (may not work in all browsers, especially mobile ones):

Tune in to hear an interview with Creed Taylor, who revolutionized the respectability and popularity of jazz with CTI Records. In fact, some of the most significant jazz of the last half of the 20th century has been fashioned under Taylor’s guidance and supervision.

This show is a remixed version of one that originally aired as part of WBAI’s fifth Hip Hop Takeover in June 2007 and primarily focused on songs from the CTI Records catalog that have been sampled by hip hop artists.

Taylor has been especially influential in the packaging of music. His records are as much art to see as they are to hear. With heavy, glossy, gatefold covers featuring stark design and striking photography, his records have the sound and feel of something bearing unusual class and great quality.

After earning a degree in psychology in the early 1950s, Taylor played trumpet in clubs around Virginia Beach. He relocated to New York and secured a venerable post as head of artists and repertoire at Bethlehem Records. He produced a wide variety of jazz for Bethlehem before he took a higher profile position with ABC Paramount during the late fifties. At ABC, he produced some jazz and a great many more vocal recordings that enjoyed popular success.

When ABC Records sought to form a jazz subsidiary in 1960, Taylor was recruited to oversee it all. He called the company “Impulse!,” conceived its distinctive black and orange label and spine design, brought in photographer Pete Turner for elegant, vivid cover art and initiated heavy cardboard, gatefold sleeves (to convey substance). Taylor, however, stayed with Impulse for only a few months. But during this short time, he recorded historically significant music by John Coltrane, Gil Evans, Oliver Nelson and Ray Charles.

Taylor jumped ship to accept a lucrative offer to run Verve Records, the jazz label Norman Granz sold to MGM in 1961. Here was a company that had solid name recognition in the jazz community as well as a rich parent company to fund many of Taylor’s lavish goals. Verve’s big budgets and Creed Taylor’s proven ability to turn jazz into hits (starting in 1962 with Stan Getz’s “The Girl From Ipanema”) afforded limitless opportunities to employ the cream of the crop in studio musicians for these records.

In November 1967, Taylor arranged with A&M’s Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss to begin his own organization, CTI Records. The team he took with him were among the finest in the business: engineer Rudy Van Gelder, designer Sam Antupit and, again, photographer Pete Turner. He also developed a small in-house staff of musicians comprised of jazz’s greatest names.

In 1970, Creed Taylor launched CTI as an independent entity. The shift was seen in the switch from the cover’s white backgrounds to black. George Benson made the transition too, staying throughout CTI’s greatest years in the 1970s. Some of the music’s greatest players, including (past Suga’ in My Bowl guest) Freddie Hubbard and Stanley Turrentine, were recruited to CTI and ultimately created some of their most remarkable recordings while under Creed Taylor’s aegis.

(CT’s bio adapted from Doug Payne’s excellent blog entry.)

Hosted by Arts Producer Joyce Jones.

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