CTI Records: The Best Album Covers

CTI Records label was launched by producer Creed Taylor in 1970. Taylor has recorded many of extraordinaire artists and brought jazz music to the wide audience. Actually, the most of legendary jazz albums released in the second half of 20th century are designed under Taylor’s authority.

Taylor’s records are as masterpiece to see as they are to hear. His recordings have been of the topnotch level, while his approach to packaging and fashioning of music has been equally impressive. Music fleshed out with breath­taking photography creates the most complete impression and aesthetic pleasure. Indeed, long time ago, when there was no such thing as Internet with its option to download music, listeners and musicians paid more attention to the design of the album covers. See it yourself.

Hubert Laws ​– Morning Star

Photography By [Cover] — Pete Turner

Photography By [Liner] — K. Abe

Hubert Laws’ Morning Star is one of the finest but the least known records CTI has made.

It features Ron Carter (bass), Bob James (electric piano), and Billy Cobham (drums). Laws himself plays different flutes (alto flute, bass flute, piccolo, etc) and shares the bunk with Bob James, who is truly amazing here. Listeners will enjoy original tracks (“No More”, “Let her Go” and “What Do You Think of This World Now”), spirituals (“Amazing Grace”) and pop­covers (Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack’s “Where Is The Love”).

• Antonio Carlos Jobim ​– Wave

Photography By [Cover] — Pete Turner

One of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s very best albums, Wave, includes short tracks (less than three minutes) involving only tiny elements of improvisation. Despite participation of the most well­known jazz musicians like Ron Carter (bass), Jimmy Cleveland (trombone), Jerome Richardson (flute), and Urbie Green (trombone), Wave could be hardly called a jazz album. However, the tunes are delicate and great: “Triste” and “Wave” are top drawer.

• Don Sebesky ­ The Rape of El Morro

Photography By [Cover] — Alan Kaplan

Photography By [Liner] — Alen MacWeeney

Don Sebeski together with amazing musicians — Steve Gadd (drums), Ron Carter (bass), Roland Hanna (keyboards), Save Sanborn (alto saxophone), etc — have created an album able to please jazz­rock, funk and fusion fans. Unpredictable fusion elements a la Chick Corea along with Spanish mood and groaning voice of Joan LaBarbara creates a special atmosphere. The most noteworthy piece here is “Moon Dreams”: the pinnacle of Sabeski’s excellence as an arranger. It uses gentle flutes and great Micheal Brecker’s tenor solo.

• Bob James ­ One

Photography By [Cover] — Gene Laurents

One is rightfully considered as the best Bob James’ album. Combining different moods and styles, along with light jazz and funk, James created a diversity of sound able to impress anyone. James’ gentle piano sound ranges from funky tunes to dark jazz. This bouncy atmosphere of the whole album is highlighted by “Valley of the Shadows”, a nearly ten­minutes spiritual song with exotic guitar and tribal percussion, “In the Garden”, a smooth jazzy piece and funk inspired beautiful track “Nautilus”.

• Milt Jackson ­ Sunflower

Photography By [Cover] — Pete Turner

Sunflower is the first and the best Milt Jackson’s CTI record. This album is remarkable in all ways, including an incomparable version of “Little Sunflower”, Freddie Hubbard’s ode. The musicianship is all­star — Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Herbie Hancock (piano), Ron Carter (bass), Billy Cobham (drums) and others. Don Sebesky’s string arrangements are as good as always. Jay Berliner (acoustic guitar) creates fascinating effect on “Someone I Love”. In addition to these charming tracks, this album also includes the instrumental version of popular The Stylistics’ song “People Make the World Go Round”. These albums represent some of the most significant jazz music of 1970s packed into the most beautiful covers. Hopefully, someday the idea of combining visual art with music will come back to the industry.

You can listen some of those albums on youtube.com or music.naij.com

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