CTI Records

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The 6000 series constitutes the strength and glory of the CTI Records story. The music outlined here celebrated the eminence of Creed Taylor as an independent force in jazz music. These records, issued between 1970 and early 1977, represent some of the finest and most significant jazz music produced during the first half of the 1970s.

Beginning with Red Clay, Freddie Hubbard's startling debut for the label, Creed Taylor formulated a vision and a direction for CTI Records. Despite having recently launched his own label as an independent entity (the 1000 series), Taylor re-launched his label here with a more cohesive, creative vision. He signed a stable of jazz star talent (George Benson, Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Hubert Laws), first-call session players (Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette) and top-shelf arrangers (Don Sebesky, Deodato, Bob James). Plus, he engaged the recording talents of Working master engineer Rudy Van Gelder to craft the "CTI sound" and photographer Pete Turner and designer Bob Ciano for the "CTI look".

With the 6000 series, CTI Records garnered significant critical notice (and quite a bit of retrospective disdain) and, more especially, a substantial financial success. Every one affiliated with CTI discovered fame and fortune beyond what they had ever known before. Creed Taylor's vision had become a sort of magic touch. This made the master even more ambitious.

Taylor established an "exclusive" relationship with legendary jazz recording engineer, Rudy Van Gelder. Taylor and Van Gelder had worked together on many recordings since the mid-1950s and Van Gelder was known for creating a signature sound for each of the labels he worked with (Blue Note, Prestige, Verve and many others). The sound Van Gelder crafted for CTI wasn't the most flattering to acoustic pianists and kit drummers. But from 1973 (beginning with Airto's Fingers) to 1977 (Art Farmer's Crawl Space), Taylor and Van Gelder maintained this exclusive relationship - and even continued it sporadically thereafter.

Taylor also felt his records weren't distributed well enough to increase sales appropriately. He decided he could do it better if he did it himself. Boldly, he set about launching the CTI Distributing Corporation in June 1972. This overly ambitious entry into the "rack-jobbing" business represented Taylor's effort to control and maximize the distribution of his company's product to retail outlets throughout North America.

Such a uniquely unprecedented concept proved to be more difficult - and more outrageously expensive - than Taylor anticipated and, by 1974, brought about extreme financial hardship to the company. Despite basking in the success of his company's largest-ever hit (Deodato's Top 10, Grammy-winning "Also Sprach Zarathustra"), Taylor was forced into a distribution arrangement with Motown Records.

At this point in 1974 (beginning with the 40th issue in the 6000 series), the first generation of CTI "stars" (Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine and George Benson) were leaving the label to seek more lucrative offers elsewhere. Taylor - perhaps the shrewdest talent scout in the history of jazz - was already recording the next wave of CTI stars, including such jazz legends as Chet Baker, Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan while still cultivating new talent like Bob James, Dave Matthews and Allan Holdsworth. 

Motown Records distributed much of CTI's product through early 1977 (ending with the the last in the 6000 series, CTI 6072 S1). Taylor, whose distribution network had long since been forced to shut down, initiated litigation proceedings against the Detroit giant, claiming it had long ago recouped its initial investment in CTI. The dissolution of the arrangement cost Taylor Grover Washington, Jr.'s lucrative contract and Motown's ownership of the popular sax player's entire CTI (Kudu) back catalog.

1970 Crying Song (1970 reissue)
Hubert Laws
Issues: CTI 6000
Master No: CT 1002 A/B
  Red Clay
Freddie Hubbard
Issues: CTI 6001
Master No: CT 6001 A/B
  Stone Flower
Antonio Carlos Jobim
Issues: CTI 6002
Master No.: RVG 87654 A/B


  Joe Farrell Quartet
Joe Farrell
Issues: CTI 6003
Master No.: RVG 87655 A/B
  Montreux II
Bill Evans
Issues: CTI 6004
Master No.: RVG 87657 A/B
Stanley Turrentine
Issues: CTI 6005
Master No.: RVG 87658 A/B
Hubert Laws
Issues: CTI 6006
Master No: RVG 87659 A/B
  Straight Life
Freddie Hubbard
Issues: CTI 6007
Master No: RVG 87660 A/B
1971 Gilberto With Turrentine
Astrud Gilberto
Issues: CTI 6008 (more...)
Master No: RVG 87662 A/B
  Beyond The Blue Horizon
George Benson
CTI 6009
Master No.: RVG 87663 A/B