It is often the case that, once an artist leaves a label or is 'dropped' by the label, he/she will have nothing to say about the release of any other material. But, in this case I was very fortunate to have been consulted, and was able to select the tracks from the three Columbia recordings, to sequence them, and to be present at the re-mastering for CD. To me, the latter was the most important part because I felt that "THE BLUE MAN" especially was a bit abrasive sounding as an LP and needed to be 'warmed-up' a bit. I would have loved to have been able to include at least 3 more tracks, but at the time, Columbia was unwilling to pay the 'mechanical royalties' on the additional compositions. Call it "music business suicide" but, because no one at the label seemed to remember, I was able to assemble the tracks without including my own greatest hit, "Darlin' Darlin' Baby." Certainly there are those who would call this a HUGE business error, but, I wanted this CD to represent my own writing as much as possible. Had I been allowed to do so, I would have included both Randy Brecker compositions too. The CD includes 3 tracks each from "TIGHTROPE" and "THE BLUE MAN" plus 4 tracks from "ARROWS." We were also able to use the great photo from the LP sleeve of "THE BLUE MAN" which shows Don Grolnick, me, Steve Gadd, Will Lee, and Michael Brecker taken at Bill's Rehearsal Studios prior to a concert. What a scruffy lot we were then!
I can't believe that I forgot to mention that, in 1980, as the Fusion Era had really come to end, Columbia Records decided to clean house and let most of the Jazz and Jazz/Fusion roster of artists go. Of course, I was one of those artists. It was obviously one of the darkest moments in my life and career. It was not too long after that that the same Columbia Records decided to release a series of albums, LPs, to be titled "THE BEST OF." Imagine that! I had really only made 3 recordings as a leader, how could I be entitled to such luxurious treatment. But, there I was, and happy to be included in this series, because it would prolong my career while I tried to figure what was going to become of me. I can't recall exactly how Columbia came-up with the photo that you now see on the LP cover. But, there it is, big hair and all. Of course, in hindsight, it would not be so bad to now have a goodly portion of all hair that back!
At some point, during this process, Columbia's wonderful art director and designer, Paula Scher, to whom I owe so very much for the Jean-Michel Folon covers that you always see, made a POSTER to salute all the artists included in the series. And now, you can view via the link provided. Each LP had the same basic look, a cynic might say that it was a brown paper bag with a photo and type placed on it. Hence, I jokingly referred to the series as "THE BROWN PAPER BAG SERIES." In 1994, when they were going to convert these same LPs to CDs, they changed the title to "THE COLLECTION" which is what most of you are probably now familiar with. And, of course, given the chance, I chose a different photo for the cover. It was an individual portrait taken by Jim Houghton when Paula Scher assigned him to shoot Jean-Michel Folon and I together for the "ARROWS" album.
at Bill's Rehearsal Studio - by Laura Friedman