When Bob Thiele launched Flying Dutchman Records in 1969 he had just emerged from eight years as the head of Impulse, ABC’s jazz label. The former pop A&R man – who in the 50s had signed Buddy Holly and Jackie Wilson – had been responsible for the creation of some of the most important and challenging music of the decade, as well as a series of highly satisfying recordings by older giants of jazz. This reached unparalleled heights in his collaborations with John Coltrane which allowed the saxophonist to pursue his distinct and personal vision on such masterpieces as “A Love Supreme” and “Ascension”.
Flying Dutchman was Thiele’s personal statement. When he set up the label, 60s counterculture and black power were in full swing. If the 48 year-old Thiele seemed like an odd fit, his credibility as Coltrane’s producer allowed him entry into those worlds. He released masters by progressive jazz musicians such as Leon Thomas, Lonnie Liston Smith and Gato Barbieri, new recordings by Count Basie and Earl Hines, political speeches and audio journalism – and in Gil Scott-Heron he discovered one ofAmerica’s most original voices, recording his earliest and most important musical statements.
The releases on Flying Dutchman showed an attention to detail that belied its independent status and lack of funds. Glossy gatefold sleeves, exquisite photographs and the best studios were what Thiele’s productions had received at ABC, and this was what he felt they deserved at Flying Dutchman. It was always a struggle, but he went it alone for five years in an increasingly difficult economic situation before the success of Gato Barbieri and Lonnie Liston Smith saw him hook up with RCA. By then the political spirit of the early years had faded but was kept alive in the cosmic jazz of Lonnie Liston Smith and his worldwide hit ‘Expansions’, the crowning glory of the label’s second chapter.
Our reissue campaign has focused on a mixture of Flying Dutchman’s biggest acts and some of the lesser-known artists and releases. We feel it is a fitting way to deal with such a fantastic legacy.