Posted by Rick Frystak, December 13, 2019 12:50am | Post a Comment
 Gerry Teekens, the highly esteemed president, owner and producer of Criss Cross Records, one of the greatest straight-ahead jazz labels ever to mix straight-ahead burning with progressive composition passed away on October 31. He was one bad-ass producer who stuck to his love of swinging, creative, and up-and-coming music and musicians who never let go of that particular sound and style.

Through thick and thin and every trend you could think of, Gerry hung onto his love of that particular style and sound, which the major labels had forsaken unless they found a profitable aspect to it, and keep releasing it year after year. Many times I had thought Teekins would throw in the towel in this regard, but like many of Amoeba's customers who love the label, he hung in there, stayed loyal and kept doing what he loved, and it paid off musically, creatively, joyfully!

Thanks to those customers who continue to buy the near-$20 import CDs of Gerry's label, he discovered and released many new and unknown musicians' work with his own kind of blinders on, or he gave a chance to many seasoned players who normally wouldn 't have a record contract, and relentlessly released records by artists that had been kicked to the curb by other labels. Artists like Gary Smulyan, Warne Marsh, Peter Bernstein, and many many other first-class players from any style. ECM recently upped Chris Potter's output in recent days, and is consistently reviewed quite well. Chris Potter's first album is on Criss Cross, released in 1992, to give you an example of Teekens' ear. Gary Smulyan could be the torchbearer for the baritone saxophone for many years to come just based on what he's already done on Criss Cross, luscious tone and very creative ideas in his solos and composition. Here's Gary's hommage to Pepper Adams with Tommy Flanagan: 

Shown here is the latest Lage Lund disc, 
Terrible Animals, one of my favorite guitarists, who happens to be on the label. He’s much like Jack Wilkins, and this is one of Criss Cross’s most progressive releases. Guitarists who I deeply respect with Lage are Adam Rogers and Mike Moreno, each releasing regular hybrids of straight-ahead/progressive discs. Adam is also one of Pat Metheny’s favorites, so you know he's no time waster. Gary Smulyan could be the torchbearer for the baritone saxophone for many years to come just based on what he's already done, gorgeous, luscious tone. Gerry Teekens dug organ trios, and he released some Mel Rhyne records, of course, Wes Montgomery's chosen accompaniest on the organ for many years. And Lage's newest release for Criss Cross is a very out-there record, so much until one gets to the middle of the disc when some standards calm the proceedings down a bit. Perhaps this indicates a new liberalism that was happening in Gerry's viewpoint as a producer? 

Gerry started the label early in 1980 with artists like Chet Baker, and a who's who of under-radar-killers like Warne Marsh and Kirk Lightsey, Clifford Jordan, Jimmy Rainey, Johnny Coles, Kenny Barron and Jimmy Knepper have showed up in the early years as leaders or sidemen. Jimmy Rainey brought in his son Doug to good success, and the younger Mr. Rainey has been developing his own sound for many years, a lush, smokey, low-light groover. Even Dave Pike has an album on the label.Tom Harrell released this smoker with Kenny Garrrett 35 years ago. 

Amoeba carries most of the new releases on the label, Including artists whose names might not be familiar to most jazz fans, but with a blindfold test would have folks going, "WHO'S THIS?".
It's the kind of label that, once a fan of this musc discovers it, there will be no end to the joy of digging for treasure within it's packages.

Herewith are some of the best post-Coltrane, post-bop discs that I feel are worthy musics to share with the public:

Brian Lynch Latin Jazz Sextet - Con Clave 
Walt Weiskopf -
See The Pyramid 
Orrin Evans-
It Was Beauty
Mike Moreno-
3 For 3
Seamus Blake - Reeds Ramble
Tim Warfield - Spherical: Dedicated to
Thelonius Sphere Monk
Luis Perdomo - Infancia Project
Tim Warfield - Jazzland
Dr. Lonnie Smith - Art Of Organizing

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Adam Rogers (1), Gerry Teekens (1), Mike Moreno (1), Lage Lund (1)