love story which very well might make a great movie… but not
by today’s exposé standards. Two people with a dream
and a commitment. A period of time, which evolved into a special space
of learning and growth, of opportunity and unique vision, of superlative
talent and accomplishment...
The eternal, legendary love stories don't depend on sensationalism.
The eternal love story is based on a deep understanding, a concern
and, perhaps even spirituality. Those lucky enough to experience it
can't imagine anything else but those that never have can only imagine...
What does all that have to do with a jazz record label? That lifestyle
setting is a facet of the name and the original direction of 90th
Floor Records. A man and a woman that came to Dallas in the mid-50's
brought unique talent with them and that story may well be told sometime
in the future.
Bruce Collier and friend Jim Thompson discovered, as did so many
others, the unusual talent and atmosphere that emanated from the warehouse
turned nightclub just north of downtown Dallas. In a very short time
The 90th Floor became a beacon for so many that could experience only
the best and likewise would settle for nothing less. The likes of
Tony Bennett, Sylvia Simms, Marlene Dietrich, Burgess Meredith and
others made The 90th Floor a must do regardless of proximity –
travel made plans might even be adjusted so that they could be in
attendance as they felt the need.
Collier heard the talent of owners Dick and Kiz Harp and with their
permission began a nightly recording program. The initial idea was
partially based on “…would you mind if we record you?
We won’t try to sell anything…” to “…we
have some pretty good stuff… if we can put together a label,
would you go along with us and let us become an independent jazz label
with Dick and Kiz the initial launch…?” Dick Harp said
that they had been approached by several labels, RCA and Mercury to
name a few, but “…everyone wants to make us into something
else… they want to add strings and horns and…”
So the simple and clean approach offered by Collier and Thompson
seemed a good alternative. At that point, however, Thompson left,
deciding to get his Viet Nam obligation out of the way. A company
was formed, Sound Lab Ltd., which was the parent company of 90th Floor
Records. In addition, two key people became involved with the start
of the new company, Bob Walcher and Mike Michaelis, who would be involved
in both business and packaging of product. A recording studio built
actually in the same building as The 90th Floor, behind the club and
facing another street. Negotiations continued as the studio began
to develop some alternatives to the sound of Dick and Kiz. In addition,
work began on an album that would initiate additional exposure to
another segment of jazz indigenous to the north Texas area. An agreement
was struck between Leon Breeden, new – at the time – head
of the North Texas State jazz department. The program itself was relatively
new and only fairly well known nationally although those that should
know, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and others of the same genre, were
very excited about the talent offered and funneling from Denton, Texas.
Promotion for the 90th Floor label offered exceptional results. Billboard
magazine and Cash Box both reviewed and endorsed the Dick and Kiz
album. Down Beat, jazz “bible” for those that would check
the pulse of “the only true American music art form,”
then and today, gave the new North Texas album with cover notes by
Stan Kenton, four and a half stars out of a possible five. With other
schools beginning similar educational programs, that review spoke
well of the project and the talent featured on the album.
^ t o p