CTI Revisited

It’s the Nu Cool Revolution with Nu Civilisation Orchestra playing music from the celebrated CTI record label. CTI was famed for popularising jazz in the 70s through laying soulful acoustic grooves and elegant string and horn arrangements by Don Sebesky over popular songs and chart hits played by the top jazz musicians of the time, including Freddie Hubbard, George Benson, Esther Phillips, Stanley Turrentine and many more.

CTI Live
CTi Summer Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl Live One

Thanks in part to its high quality cover artwork and crystal clear recordings, the label became the soundtrack for the smartly dressed but not stuffy, the intelligent but streetwise, the poised but funky.

It’s this balance that the NCO strikes. Many of its members have become leaders of the UK’s own Nu Cool music scene, bringing a growing audience back to jazz.

Audiences might recognise CTI’s back catalogue from DJ sets and hip-hop samples by today’s stars, whilst others might remember the original classics, tracks that remained approachable whilst refining jazz’s searching qualities and virtuosity. 

These records had the resonance to remain approachable whilst refining jazz’s searching qualities and virtuosity. Today’s jazz, along with other modern art forms, is entering a new creative age, parallel to the ground breaking Parisian cultural explosion a century before it. This is the Nu Cool Revolution.

The 14-piece unit…makes an astute foray into the world of 1970s electric fusion by celebrating the songbook of the feted CTI label. Crucially, the NCO has strings as well as horns and rhythm section to convincingly produce the all important sheen and silkiness that characterised the many scores written by Don Sebesky for George Benson, Randy Weston and Freddie Hubbard, among others.

….If the evening opened on a high with Deodato’s ‘2001’ it didn’t come down on the closer, Hubbard’s ‘Red Clay’. It was recorded in the 1970s, sampled in the 1990s and is still rocking in the millennium.

Kevin Le Gendre, Jazzwise