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Archive for October 31st, 2012

The Digital Master Company Turns 30: GRP Records Celebrated with New Compilation

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Though the 50th anniversary of Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss’ A&M Records got some well-deserved attention earlier this year, another unit of Universal Music Group was also celebrating a milestone anniversary.  GRP Records, founded by Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen, was founded in 1978, as an imprint of Arista Records known as “Arista/GRP.”  This arrangement was similar to Creed Taylor’s CTI label, which first existed as part of A&M.  Much as Taylor struck out on his own, so did Grusin and Rosen, and in 1982, GRP went independent.  That’s the date chosen by Verve Music Group as the true birth of GRP, and the starting point for GRP 30: The Digital Master Company 30th Anniversary, a 2-CD, 30-track overview compiled by Grusin, Rosen and Richard Havers.

By 1978, keyboardist/composer Dave Grusin was already an established figure in the worlds of film scoring (The Graduate, Three Days of the Condor) and jazz.  Larry Rosen was a musician, too, starting his career as a drummer.  In the early 1960s, the two men became acquainted as members of Andy Williams’ band – Grusin as pianist and conductor, Rosen as drummer.  When Rosen was producing 1972’s Rashida for artist Jon Lucien, he called upon Grusin as an arranger.  Soon after, the two began a production partnership that encompassed recordings on various labels, from artists as diverse as Earl Klugh and Patti Austin.  It was only natural, then, that Grusin and Rosen would spread their wings and fly solo.  After the success of Arista/GRP, the next logical step was to go independent.  GRP took inspiration from jazz labels like CTI and ECM, and got attention early as “The Digital Master Company.”  Grusin and Rosen both took a keen interest in digital recording and compact disc technology, and GRP was at the vanguard of the CD’s initial launch.  The GRP roster included Grusin himself as bandleader, plus his brother Don, Lee Ritenour, Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Diane Schuur, Patti Austin, The Brecker Brothers and many others.  The label took on projects from legends of the jazz genre like Dizzy Gillespie and Gerry Mulligan, and in its later years, discovered the young Diana Krall.

In 1987, GRP entered into a distribution deal with MCA Records, and in 1990, MCA (later Universal Music Group) purchased GRP from Grusin and Rosen.  The label was soon renamed MCA-GRP and took over control of many of MCA’s classic jazz holdings including records from the Impulse! and Decca catalogues.  Grusin and Rosen departed GRP in 1995, with noted producer Tommy LiPuma taking the reins from them.  GRP was later absorbed into Verve, where the imprint resides today.

What will you find on GRP 30?  Hit the jump for more, including a full track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 31, 2012 at 13:11

Honey Don’t! Rockstar Records Releases Live Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, But Ringo Says “It’s Not Me”

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Among the many footnotes in Beatles lore has been Ringo Starr’s tenure with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.  The group was one of the most popular acts on the early Merseybeat scene, playing Liverpool and Hamburg, and alternating sets with The Beatles at the Kaiserkeller.  Yet there’s precious little recorded evidence of the band and even less of Starr’s tenure as drummer.  An Oriole label single in 1963 yielded “Dr. Feelgood” b/w “I Can Tell.”  Parlophone released “America” (from West Side Story) b/w “Since You Broke My Heart” in 1964, with Brian Epstein as producer.  Starr had joined the Hurricanes in 1959, but was out by August 1962, at which time he was invited to join his mates in The Beatles.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Earlier this year, Rockstar Records announced it would be making history of its own, when it announced the first-ever album by Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, featuring Ringo Starr.  The newly discovered recordings were found in the basement of Iris Caldwell, sister of Rory Storm (born Alan Caldwell in 1938) and arrived on CD late in September.  The tapes, released as Live at the Jive Hive, March 1960, reportedly document a performance at the Jive Hive club in Crosby, north of Liverpool, recorded on March 5, 1960, plus four home recordings by Storm circa the same period.  The plot thickened, however, when Ringo Starr denied that he appeared on the tapes.

“It’s not me,” Ringo said in a statement via his publicist shortly after the original announcement was issued by Rockstar.   “That was done after I’d left to join the Beatles. I don’t know who the drummer was but I hope that Rory fans enjoy it anyway.  The only two tracks I was on were recorded while we were in Germany in 1960, when we made a two-track acetate, and for those of you in the digi world that is a-ce-tate, of ‘Mailman Bring Me No More Blues,’ a Buddy Holly song sang by Lou Walters, and ‘Fever,’ and I’d love to hear those tracks ‘cause I don’t have a copy.”

That still hasn’t ended the story of Live at the Jive Hive, however.  There’s more after the jump including a track listing and order link!  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 31, 2012 at 08:09