Bob Thiele is one of the great producers. For his work with John Coltrane alone, where he gave free reign to the saxophone great's wildest musical visions including 'A Love Supreme', ignoring the usual cost consciousness of a major label, he deserves to be lauded. In addition to this his 8 years at Impulse saw him recording seminal works by scores of musicians including late blooming masterpieces by Ellington and Hodges, and a whole wave of 'new thing' jazzers such as Archie Shepp and Pharoah Sanders. He didn't stop there and when he launched his own label Flying Dutchman in 1969, he continued to innovate and record music that reflected its times, but that also resonates down through the ages.
It is to Flying Dutchman that we are paying tribute in our latest 'This Is' compilation. We of course turn the focus on the label's two main stars. Gil Scott-Heron's recordings for the label ran to three records, which sold well but not spectacularly at the time. They have since taken on a resonance that makes the album "Pieces Of A Man" in particular one of the most important recordings of the last century, and its opening track 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised' an anthem. Pianist Lonnie Liston Smith had been on Thiele's final important Impulse recording Pharoah Sanders "Karma", and continued to appear on Flying Dutchman first as a sideman and then as a leader. His 1975 album "Expansions" was the perfect encapsulation of his 'Cosmic aware jazz' and the titles track a moment of near perfection which has become one of the foundation pieces of modern dance music.
Flying Dutchman's other great discoveries are here. Vocalist Leon Thomas found a new route for jazz vocals in the early 70s, which made him a star and earned him a place in Santana. Gato Barbieri became one of the major saxophone stars of the era, after Thiele enabled him to meld his free jazz leanings to the rhythms of South America. The label also made important recordings with Tom Scott (featured on Thiele's own 'Head Start'), Ornette Coleman and Oliver Nelson, whilst interesting records appeared by Esther Marrow, Harold Alexander and many more.
This is Flying Dutchman is a considered tribute to the label, and features in depth and fully illustrated sleeve notes. In the year when Bob Thiele's son is gearing up to release the first new music on the label since 1976, it is an apt & timely reminder of the power of the music.