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A 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.

Next:   Tragedy & Rebirth

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