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Jazz Label Premiers <i>The Master Collection </i> - 2002-04-23

CTI Records' distinctive jazz sound has resurfaced on an ambitious re-issue series consisting of 15 solo releases and a 19-track compilation called CTI: The Master Collection. This enterprising label once made history by recruiting some of jazz music's most-admired musicians.

Lush orchestral arrangements, unhurried instrumental solos and a mix of jazz, blues and funk were the order of the day at CTI Records.

Two of the label's leading players, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and vibraphonist Milt Jackson performed the title song from one of Jackson's best-selling albums on CTI, Sunflower.

CTI Records was the brainchild of its visionary founder Creed Taylor. After earning a degree in psychology, Taylor launched his musical career as a trumpeter in his native Virginia. A position as Director of Artists and Repertoire at Bethlehem Records brought him to New York in the 1950s. When Bethlehem disbanded, Taylor went to ABC-Paramount and became a respected producer of jazz and vocal music.

Taylor was then recruited to run the newly-formed Impulse Records. During his brief stay at Impulse, Taylor recorded innovative jazz by John Coltrane, Gil Evans and Ray Charles.

Taylor's next move was to the landmark jazz label, Verve Records. Taylor wasted no time signing some of the best in the business to Verve, including Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery. Taylor even won a Grammy Award for his production on the jazz classic, "Girl From Ipanema." In 1967, with the backing of A&M Records, he formed his own label, Creed Taylor Incorporated or CTI.

The 1970s were considered CTI's most prolific years, when the label turned out masterpieces by Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard and George Benson.

George Benson's "My Latin Brother" from his 1974 album Body Talk is also on CTI: The Master Collection, a new CD featuring CTI greats Hank Crawford, Hubert Laws, Deodato, Jim Hall and a famous member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, saxophonist Paul Desmond.

CTI suffered from a decline in sales in the 1980s, but under a new distribution deal with Sony Music the label was re-launched in 1997. In addition to the new CTI Master Collection, Sony and CTI have re-issued eight solo recordings, with seven more classic re-issues to be released in June.