CTI All-Stars – Live One (Summer Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl)
Vinyl rip in 24 bit 192 khz | Photos and art scans at 300 dpi
1977 CTI Records – CTI 7076
01 Grits Bowl 8:09
Written-By – Hank Crawford
02 Inner City Blues / What’s Going On 8:46
Written-By – A. Cleveland, J. Nyxw, M. Gaye, R. Benson
03 California Dreaming 8:36
Written-By – J. Phillips, M. Gilliam
04 First Light 8:27
Written-By – Freddie Hubbard
Record Company – Creed Taylor, Inc.
Published By – Jobete Music Co., Inc.
Published By – Char-Liz Music, Inc.
Published By – Wingate Music Corp.
Published By – Hubtones Music
Mixed At – Electric Lady Studios
Recorded At – Hollywood Bowl
Bass – Ron Carter
Drums – Jack DeJohnette
Flute – Hubert Laws
Guitar – George Benson
Keyboards – Bob James, Deodato, Johnny Hammond
Percussion – Airto
Saxophone – Grover Washington, Jr., Hank Crawford, Joe Farrell, Stanley Turrentine
Trumpet – Freddie Hubbard
Vibraphone – Milt Jackson
Vocals – Esther Phillips
Engineer – David Palmer
Design [Album] – Sib Chalawick
MC – Leonard Feather, Rick Holmes
Photography By – K’Abe
Producer – Creed Taylor
Recorded By – Wally Heider
Matrix / Runout (Runout A): 87738A1
Matrix / Runout (Runout B): 87738B11
CTI 7076 vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; Audioquest King Cobra cables; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; clicks and pops removed with Click Repair on light settings, manually auditioning the output; further clicks removed with Adobe Audition 3.0; dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.
I had intended to post this for the American Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer in the country that doesn’t recognize May Day as the real labor holiday. This and the other two volumes were nearly ready to go when I received crappy professional news that I took personally. At this point, not posting on the blog when I get bad news is the equivalent of “my dog ate my homework”. When some good news finally comes in I’ll probably have to shut the blog down completely, it will be such a disruption from the pattern of the last three years.
Of course immediately after that holiday weekend, I was propelled into full-on disaster preparedness mode for the impending apocalypse, as discussed in my last post, which failed to actually occur. It did happen in the Caribbean, and now Mexico and Puerto Rico are being smitten by the hammer of the gods. I also hear that THE RAPTURE is imminent, so there may still be a chance to see the end of the world before the month is out. Meanwhile, why not groove to the proto-smooth-jazz of the CTI All-Stars while waiting for the four horseman of the Book of Revelations to crash through your bedroom wall like the map thieves in Time Bandits? Obviously I’m not really “feelin'” this post right now but I had it prepared for you and, in the northern hemisphere, it is the official last day of summer so I might as well post part 1 of 3 of a summer jazz festival.
Calling the CTI All-Stars “proto-smooth-jazz” is slightly cruel but still not altogether wrong. The MC who opens the show (either Leonard Feather or Rick Holmes, I can’t tell), opines, “If jazz is dead, this is the biggest funeral I’ve ever seen.” Somehow this doesn’t inspire confidence in me at all. After all, jazz has always had a lot of friends and relations, and I’d expect a big turnout at its interment. Nevertheless, this concert was recorded in 1972 and so it is legitimately pretty funky and soulful jazz. A listener might hope – what with this being live on stage, and not a tightly controlled Creed Taylor studio production – that the musicians would let loose more, take more risks, really let it rip. Instead this is still largely a polished diamond, all the rough edges shaved down to gleaming facets, and if that’s how you like your jazz then you will revel in this. Although I’m tempted to think of the presence of Creed Taylor anywhere in the vicinity to be a bit like the unseen policeman in the tower in Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, compelling all the musicians to stay on their best behavior and discipline themselves, the truth is probably less cryptic. This is an “All-Star” band comprised of around a dozen people who were all good bandleaders in their own right. You get the feeling that everybody is being respectful and not wanting to step on anybody else’s toes by grandstanding too much.
I’m not sure what the story is in the five-year lag between the recording of this concert and its release on album. The fact that it was done in three separate installments, and at the very end of CTI’s partnership with Motown Records, makes me inclined to think this was a contractual obligation thing. I suppose three budget-priced LPs might sell a little easier than a deluxe triple disc set, but then again anybody still closely following CTI in the late 70s, when the label had pretty thoroughly run out of steam, probably would have bought it no matter how it was packaged. As it stands, these three volumes seemed to get relegated to the cut-out bins pretty quickly and are pretty easy to find on the cheap. All of mine were ‘new old stock’ so they made for a nice and easy vinyl transfer.
I’ve already described the music in general terms. I could get specific but then I would have to complain about the silly police siren in the Marvin Gaye sandwich of Inner City Blues/What’s Going On. Oh my, I guess I just did. Listen to the incomparable Jack DeJohnette on his drum kit chaffing at the bit on this piece, trying to inject a little improvisational excitement into the careful, reverential arrangement, and you might see why I’m being kind of dour. I still dig it, but it’s not a “you gotta hear this!” kind of cut like a roster of this much talent merits. Still, this concert is an opportunity to hear some of the people whose careers took off in the 70’s while they were still young and hungry – Grover Washington, Jr, and George Benson often don’t get their due credit, and that’s largely the fault of their own sleepy and predictable releases as time went on and they truly became the poster children of pre-Kenny G ‘pop jazz’. Others, like Joe Farrell, had a bunch of consistently interesting records for CTI that I really do think are unfairly overlooked.
Benson takes the lead in a version of ‘California Dreaming’ that is more exciting than it probably deserves to be. The closer on this set, Freddie Hubbard’s “First Light” is the most compelling thing here. Which isn’t too surprising – Hubbard turned in some of my favorite CTI releases, which I think rank among the best LPs of his career, in particular Red Clay and Straight Life. It’s solid and makes you want to hear the next LP of this set, but ultimately the version on his own album is still better.
All three of these records are gatefolds, featuring the same photograph of a (mostly but not entirely filled) Hollywood Bowl from behind the musicians. The graphic designers and typesetters changed the track list, but the musician credits are generic – it is up to you the listener to discern who is taking a solo at any given time, or whether that’s Bob James or Deodato on the electric piano on this or that cut. Hell, singer Esther Phillips is credited on all three LPs but only actually appears on the last one. If any readers happen to have a break-down of who actually plays on which tracks of this sprawling triple live project, leave a comment and if the info is reliable I will add it to the body of this post. Meanwhile, stay tuned for the next volume which features a moody rendition of Windmills Of Your Mind that is worth a listen.