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Creed Taylor, Incorporated: The AAJ Interview, Part 2-3

By Published: July 6, 2004
AAJ: Did you know how big "The Girl from Ipanema" (from the album Getz / Gilberto) was going to blow up?

CT: Oh, Stan Getz and I did, right off the bat but Astrud (Gilberto) didn't. She wasn't sophisticated enough to know what she had done, you know? Besides, before that, we had the first guy who came up with the material from Brazil, of course, Charlie Byrd. He came to my office and he talked to Stan and Stan and I went down and recorded with Byrd's well-rehearsed rhythm section. Stan had never seen this music before, you know? Out of that came "Desifinado" amongst some other good stuff.

But that (Jazz Samba) was all one or at the most two takes, and we did the whole album in four hours, not in a recording studio but in nice acoustics in a black church in Washington. It was done on a 7.5 IPS portable tape machine. I must tell you, when I left, we took the shuttle back to New York and I was concerned because I thought the bass was awfully "boom-y" because we didn't have really a tight mike on the bass. I didn't know what we had until I got back and then I was just enamored with Getz' fantastic playing. He could have been playing "The Star Spangled Banner" as far as I'm concerned.

AAJ: Those records always come back to the rhythm for me. "Lilting" is an overused word that nobody uses anymore, but...

CT: It's back, it's behind the beat, that's the charm. At the same time, it has the clave pattern with it, though.

AAJ: Did you move from Verve to A&M specifically to work with Wes Montgomery, or...?

CT: No, I met John Levy, the bassist who was Wes' manager, who brought Wes to me at Verve. I did all his first stuff with Verve before I went to A&M. No, he was not signed to A&M, he came with me when I went to A&M.

The sequence of the whole thing as far as Wes was concerned was: In 1964 we won all those Grammys, Record of the Year, presented to Creed Taylor as producer of Record of the Year for "The Girl from Ipanema." Jerry Moss and Herb Alpert of course attended that event; keep in mind that the Grammys were just a small affair, no television broadcast or anything like that. Jerry and Herb asked me if I'd be interested in forming a partnership. So I got together with them and it was a joint venture with the A&M and CTI labels. That lasted two years and I just decided to start CTI after that. That was 1964—it went to 1966, '67, and then I started CTI in '68 I believe.

AAJ: You were about how old in 1968?

CT: I don't know, I try not to...I'm sure it's all over the place anyway, but I'd rather think about how I feel and not count the years.

AAJ: Do you remember what the first standalone CTI title was, or the first batch of titles?

CT: The first title, believe it or not, was a group called Flow and it had the nucleus of The Eagles in it. Flow played the Fillmore East when Miles Davis played. It happened! I think maybe it was a little before Bitches Brew, I'm not sure.

The first album was Sugar , Stanley Turrentine. Nope, actually, it wasn't! It was Hubert Laws' Crying Song. On that album, I booked a studio in Memphis specifically to get a jazz player, it was supposed to have been Stanley Turrentine, down to play with Elvis Presley's rhythm section as backup. His rhythm section was sort of the house rhythm section for American recording studios, I think it was called, in Memphis. I arrived there the night before and the next morning I hear that Stanley can't come down. So I pick up the phone and call Hubert, Hubert's on the next plane to Memphis, and he came in and recorded Crying Song.

I think that also had "Let It Be" in it. Paul McCartney sent me a tape because he had heard A Day in the Life and liked it so much that he sent it and said, "You're welcome to it. Our record isn't released yet. If Wes would like it, that would be great with me." So we had the first shot on "Let It Be." It happened to be Hubert Laws who was in the right place at the right time.

AAJ: Do you have any specific recollections about Freddie Hubbard's Red Clay or Yusef Lateef's Autophysiopsychic ? Certainly that was a very unusual record for Dr. Lateef.

CT: Well, sure, if you think about it or listen to it, it's really kind of a laid-back rap record.

Red Clay, I know I've said this before about the Getz project, but that was a one take. Might have done one to cover, but you look at Lenny White, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter—that was not a rehearsed date, that was just the right kindred spirits in the right place at the same time.

AAJ: Personal recollections about Milt Jackson, a regular contributor to CTI and perhaps the single most underrated soloist in jazz?

CT: Traveling in the circles that I travel in, he is much revered. When asked how he happened to pick the vibraphone, he said because I can control it like a human voice. I think it has soul, and I am basically a gospel singer. And he was. He sang gospel with his family. The way he has that vibrato going, many guys have tried to get his sound. But I maintain that anybody who can get his own sound on basically an electronic instrument like that has got to have something real genius going.

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