Thursday, August 4, 2016

Motif Records

Listening to Phil Schaap's podcast on Serge Chaloff (Feb 22, 2016), I came across a remark made by the renowned WKCR DJ who after playing a recording by Chaloff, called it a production of Motif Records, "a Boston obscure 78-era label".

The recording in question from April 16, 1949, entitled King Edward the Flatted Fifth, featured Boston-born Serge Chaloff (baritone sax), Charlie Mariano (alto sax), Gait Preddy (tp), Mert Goodspeed (tb), Ralph Burns (p), Frank Vaccar (b), Pete Derosa (d).

However, one small correction regarding Schaap's remark is necessary: while it is true that the recording was done in Boston, it must be noted that Motif was a California label and not a Boston one. According to Cary Ginell, Motif Records (aka Motif Record) was run as a tax write-off by the oil millionaire Milton W. Vetter.

David Axelrod, in a interview which can be accessed here, called Vetter "one of the wealthiest men in California" who also gave Axelrod a job as sale manager and later on let him to produce his first record for which he picked his pal, Gerald Wiggins. [The opening track of the album is embedded below]

Gerald Wiggins (p), Eugene Wright (b), Bill Douglas (d); LA, Feb, 1957

I have no information on how the label ceased to exist but during the mid fifties, they released various 78 rpm records and also 33 rpm LPs including a hard to find album with  drummer Max Albright as the leader which also featured Wiggins.

Small, independent labels are like poverty row film studios -- one can always dig treasures in their long forgotten catalogues.

No comments:

Post a Comment