This Is Flying Dutchman 1969-1975.

Label: BGP.

Format: CD.

Release Date: 24th February 2023.

Flying Dutchman was the second record label Bob Thiele founded during what was by then, a long, illustrious and successful career. The first was Signature Records in 1939, when he was just seventeen. 

However, Signature Records wasn’t Bob Thiele’s first job in music. His career began when he hosted a jazz radio show. This was just the latest chapter in his long and varied musical career.

When Bob Thiele was still a high school student was already an accomplished clarinet player, and led his own jazz band. However, when he left school he was determined to make his newly founded label Signature Records, a commercial success. 

After founding Signature Records in 1939, Bob Thiele signed several musicians who would later become legends of jazz. This included Donald Byrd, Lester Young and Errol Gardner. However, one of the biggest signings came in 1943, when he signed Coleman Hawkins. With such a talented roster the future looked bright for the label.

Five years later, in 1948, Signature became insolvent. However, Bob Thiele wasn’t out of music long and was soon working with Decca Records.

Having started work for Decca Records, he found himself running its imprint Coral Records. It was at Decca, that he met his future wife, Teresa Brewer, a singer he was producing.

Bob Thiele spent most of the fifties at Decca. It was during this period that he established his reputation. Then in 1961, an opportunity arose to become head of A&R at one of jazz’s most influential labels…Impulse Records.

Creed Taylor had left Impulse to run Verve Records. This left a massive void needing filled. Bob Thiele was the man to do this.

By then, he had established a reputation as a talented and forward-thinking producer. This was perfect for Impulse. Over the next eight years had worked with many of the giants of jazz. This included everyone from Charlie Mingus and Sonny Rollins to Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler, Ornette Colman and John Coltrane. Bob Thiele produced his seminal classic album A Love Supreme 1963. It was a gamechanger.

Bob Thiele helped ‘Trane make his musical dream a reality. A Love Supreme was the album he envisaged. Nowadays, A Love Supreme is regarded as one of the most important, influential and innovative jazz albums ever recorded.  However, in 1963 this was just the latest groundbreaking album Bob Thiele had produced.

The period between 1961 and 1969 was the busiest and most productive of Bob Thiele’s career.  He produced over 150 albums in eight years. This  also included albums by giants of jazz like Chico Hamilton, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard,  McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins and Stanley Turrentine. During this period Impulse enjoyed one of its most successful periods and released many albums that featured ambitious and innovative music that sometimes, was way ahead of its time.

Many within the music industry regarded Impulse with Bob Thiele at the helm as one of the most important and influential jazz labels. The label had just enjoyed its most successful release when it released Louis Armstrong’s single What A Wonderful World. However, despite the success behind the scenes at Impulse all wasn’t well.

In 1969, Bob Thiele was ousted from his role at Impulse during the musical equivalent of a musical coup d’tat. There was no sentiment in music and it didn’t seem to matter that during the eight previous years the pioneering producer who had produced many groundbreaking albums. It was the end of an era for the label and the man who had been at the helm since 1961.

Later in 1969, a new chapter in Bob Thiele’s career began when he founded a new label, Flying Dutchman. It would be very different to Impulse and other labels he had worked at. 

During his career, Bob Thiele had worked with some of the most innovative and creative musicians in the history of jazz. During that period, he had realised that often, large record companies weren’t the best environment for these musical mavericks. They didn’t thrive within such an orthodox environment. Their creativity was restricted and they were unable to experiment and innovate.

At  Flying Dutchman, Bob Thiele was able to create an environment where this would be possible. Over the next six years he signed many musical mavericks who recorded ambitious and innovative albums. This included everyone from Ornette Coleman, through Gil Scott Heron, Leon Thomas, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Louis Armstrong to Lonnie Liston Smith and His Cosmic Echoes. These musical pioneers were given an environment where they could thrive and create groundbreaking, genre-melting music that was influential and was often way ahead of its time.

This includes the music on This Is Flying Dutchman 1969-1975. It’s a new sixteen track compilation released on CD by BGP, an imprint of Ace Records on the ‘24th’ February 2023. It’s a reminder of pioneering producer Bob Thiele at the peak of his powers as he harnessed and channelled the creativity of the maverick musicians he signed to his new label and allowed them to experiment, innovate and thrive. Proof of this is this on this new compilation curated by Dean Rudland.

Opening This Is Flying Dutchman 1969-1975 is The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Gil Scott-Heron. This anthemic track is taken from his 1971 album Pieces Of A Man. The album is a groundbreaking mixture of jazz, blues, soul, proto-rap and poetry that highlights the social and political problems of the early seventies. It’s a groundbreaking album that features what’s now a classic track that inspired and influenced several generations of musicians.

In 1973, Leon Thomas released Full Circle. The album was his swansong for the label. One of the most underrated tracks on the album is Just In Time To See The Sun. It features an impassioned vocal from a truly talented singer who by then, had forged his own unique style.

Head Start is the title-track from Bob Thiele Emergency’s 1969 debut album. The two sides of the album show different sides to the group. Side one is much more traditional and benefits from a brassy sound that showcases saxophonist Tom Scott who was one of jazz’s rising stars. Then on the second side the combo fuse avant-garde with the blues on this groundbreaking hidden gem of an album.

Another album released by Flying Dutchman in 1969 was Cesar 830. It was the debut album by Cesar. It’s an eclectic album that features everything from funk, Latin jazz and salsa. Then there’s the irresistible and soulful sounding See Saw Affair where genres melt into one. This timeless track later became a favourite in rare soul clubs and is a welcome addition to the compilation.

When Esther Marrow signed to Flying Dutchman in 1969 she had already worked with Duke Ellington. Straight away, she went into the studio with arranger Gene Page and Bob Thiele taking charge of production on her debut album Newport News, Virginia. It was released later that year and features the soulful side to the twenty-nine year old singer. She’s at her best on a heartfelt and emotive reading of Peaceful Man where wistful and dramatic strings provide a perfect backdrop.

One of the most important and influential albums Bob Thiele produced for Flying Dutchman was Expansions by Lonnie Liston Smith and The Cosmic Echoes. It was released in 1975 and became the Virginia-born pianist’s most successful album. The highlight of the album is the title-track, which went on to influence several generations of musicians and became a favourite of DJs. It’s a truly timeless track and is the perfect introduction to a pioneering musician and bandleader.

Ornette Coleman released the genre-melting album Friends And Neighbors in 1974. It’s a fusion of disparate genres ranging from free jazz and avant-garde that incorporates elements of soul, funk and Latin music. That’s apparent on the title-track where musician boundaries are pushed to the limit by a tight, talented band in their quest to create ambitious and innovative.

Heavy Soul Slinger is a track from Pretty Purdie’s 1972 album Soul Is…It showcases the legendary drummer who was Bob Thiele’s musical director at Flying Dutchman. He was constantly in demand as a session player. That was no surprise.  He was versatile,  had perfect timing and could provide the heartbeat to a track or drive it along. That was the case on this album where cover versions rubbed shoulders with new material. This includes this Horace Otis composition where the drummer and bandleader is at the peak of his powers on this much-sampled track that later, would provide breakbeats aplenty for a new generation of producers.

Alto saxophonist Steve Allen was one of the first stars of the post war television age in America. However, by 1968 he was signed to Impulse and Bob Thiele produced the album Soulful Brass. The pair were reunited at Flying Dutchman in 1969 for Soulful Brass Volume 2. One of the highlights of this hidden gem of an album is a cover of Young Holt Unlimited’s Soulful Strut. Soul, funk, jazz and even easy listening melt into one on this memorable and melodic summery sounding track.

It’s a track from Leon Thomas that closes This Is Flying Dutchman 1969-1975. Echoes is taken from his 1969 album. It was the first album he recorded for Bob Thiele’s new label. The highlight of the album is Echoes,  over five minutes of beautiful, melodic and memorable music from a singer who back then, was still one of jazz’s best kept secrets.

Between 1969 and 1975 Bob Thiele produced many ambitious, influential and innovative albums by groundbreaking artists who he signed to Flying Dutchman. This was the perfect place for them.

He realised that large record companies weren’t the best environment for these musical mavericks. They didn’t thrive within such an orthodox environment. Their creativity was often restricted and stifled and they were unable to experiment and innovate. The result was they weren’t able to create the music they wanted to and often found themselves compromising musically.

This was the case at Flying Dutchman. They were able to make the music they dreamt of and envisaged. At last, they were freed from the restrictive environment of major labels. The shackles were off, and the artists on This Is Flying Dutchman 1969-1975 went on to record and release groundbreaking music that was ambitious, innovative and influential. Often genres melted into one on albums that were way ahead of their time. So much so, that it was often many years later that some of the music started to find the audience it so richly deserved.

Nowadays, Bob Thiele is regarded as a pioneering producer and his Flying Dutchman label provided a vehicle for musical mavericks to experiment and then showcase music that was ambitious and innovative. This music went on to influence several generation of musicians and help shape various musical genres. It continues to do so today. This is part of Bob Thiele’s rich musical legacy.

For anyone yet to discover the music produced by Bob Thiele, This Is Flying Dutchman 1969-1975 is the perfect opportunity to do so. This lovingly curated compilation is a reminder of the magical music made by some of the musical mavericks signed to Flying Dutchman between 1969 and 1975.

This Is Flying Dutchman 1969-1975.


1 Comment

  1. Nice to read more about him, he was at the helm of so much great music. I love the story about him feuding with the president of ABC , Newton I think it was over What a Wonderful World (1967) by Louis Armstrong. Newton hated the song and didn’t want it recorded. So I understand Bob locked him out of the studio so Louis could finish the song. Great write up on an important player in music history.

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