HITS Daily Double
I feel I have to speak out on behalf of all of those A&R and marketing executives who have been written out of the script.


Fifteen Years After an A&R Man Took a Gamble on the Veteran Jazz Pianist, the Stars Align
This blurb from HITS certainly got my attention:

VERVE WITH VERVE: Industry buzz is surrounding the newly reinvigorated Verve label under the leadership of UMe's Bruce Resnikoff, who has injected new life into the jazz category with the Grammy-winning Herbie Hancock record, River: The Joni Letters, the first jazz disc to win the Album of the Year award since Stan Getz and Jao Gilberto took home the honor for Getz/Gilberto in 1965. (2/12p)

Although I am happy to see this development for all parties concerned, I have to speak up. Before history gets re-written and the execs responsible long forgotten, I wonder who signed Herbie to Verve in the first place? Hmm....

I know I am not the first executive to feel this way, as more often than not, history does get rewritten and fact becomes fiction. I feel I have to speak out on behalf of all of those A&R and marketing executives who have been written out of the script (via mergers and downsizing), and whose hard work and efforts are being curtain-called by the understudies, so to speak.

Long ago, in a land far away, there was PolyGram Records, and a little label, newly revived, called Verve. As the A&R exec, I signed Herbie to an eight-record (firm) deal. It appeared to be a large and expensive gamble at the time, as Herbie had not recorded much in a few years, (post "Rockit"), and he was mired in a funk at WB, without releasing any new product under those aforementioned terms. Verve and Mercury, jointly with the aid of my brother Ed, and my boss at PolyGram Classics and Jazz, David Weyner, signed Herbie to a "new" deal upon my discovery of his availability.

I ended up working closely with Herbie on finishing the Grammy-winning Dis Is Da Drum, and along with Herbie, I co-produced, the Grammy-winning The New Standard. As a side note, of the original 40-song demo that I gave Herbie for his input re song selections on The New Standard were four songs by Joni Mitchell: "Coyote,” "Jericho,” "Edith” and the Kingpin" and "Furry Sings the Blues.” After a few months of trying to get Herbie to focus and listen to the proposed tunes, I edited the list to 20 songs, and finally down to the 12 we recorded for the album. We did not record any Joni tunes for that session, but a seed was planted.

I am so happy for Herbie’s continued success. It was about time he was honored for his artistry on the grand stage. All of the Verve albums released under the deal I made in 1994 have won Grammys, too, including Dis Is Da Drum, The New Standard, 1+1 with Wayne Shorter, Gershwin's World and River: The Joni Letters.

In one of my responses to the LennyBeerBlog, I alluded to the fact that either "something has gone wrong with pop music, or the Grammy voters are hipper than we thought." I guess we now know the answer!

Congratulations to Herbie and to the Verve staff on a job well done, 15 years in the making!

Just keeping it real,

Guy Eckstine