Bob Thiele's Renowned Flying Dutchman Label Revived With Jazz-Soul Vet Billy Valentine Album
by Roy Trakin
February 3, 2023 at 1:20 AM (PT)What do you think? Add your comment below.
FLYING DUTCHMAN RECORDS -- the storied imprint founded by legendary record producer BOB THIELE (JOHN COLTRANE's "A Love Supreme" and Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World") which released albums by DUKE ELLINGTON, GIL-- SCOTT HERON and LEON THOMAS, as well as audio albums by ANGELA DAVIS and STANLEY CROUCH -- is back four decades later, revived by THIELE's son BOB THIELE, JR.
On MARCH 24th, the revived label will release "BILLY VALENTINE & The Universal Truth," recorded during the pandemic in reaction to the worldwide protest after the MAY 2020 murder of GEORGE FLOYD.
“Making the album suddenly became very cathartic,” said VALENTINE. “The pandemic was one thing. Then to see what happened to GEORGE FLOYD — that just broke my heart.”
VALENTINE performed live in NICHOLS CANYON WEDNESDAY night before an invited audience that included KATY SAGAL, during GRAMMY week with a band that featured bassist PINO PALLODINO, TORTOISE guitarist JEFF PARKER, drummer JAY BELLEROSE (T BONE BURNETT, ROBERT PLANT, ALISON KRAUSS), pianist LARRY GOLDING (JOHN LEGEND, JOHN MAYER, BECK, LEON RUSSELL) and sax player JOSH JOHNSON (HARRY STYLES, LEON BRIDGES, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS).
On the new album, the 72-year-old reinterprets iconic protest and message songs originally recorded and written by CURTIS MAYFIELD ("We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue"), STEVIE WONDER ("You Haven't Done Nothin'"), EDDIE KENDRICKS, PHAROAH SANDERS, WAR ("The World Is A Ghetto"), PRINCE ("Sign O' The Times") and labelmates LEON THOMAS ("The Creator Has A Master Plan") and GIL-SCOTT HERON ("Home Is Where The Hatred Is").
Recorded at LOS ANGELES' famed EASTWEST STUDIOS, the album features, aside from PARKER, PALLADINO and GOLDINGS, JAMES GADSON, LINDA MAY OH, ALEX ACUNA, MOONCHILD's AMBER NAVRAM and BLUE NOTE recording artists JOE ROSS and IMMANUEL WILKINS.
VALENTINE spent years honing his craft at a NEW JERSEY cocktail lounge, opening for bigger acts such as ROBERTA FLACK and DONNY HATHAWAY, who would cross the HUDSON after stints at THE APOLLO. He also toured in the original road company for "The Wiz."
As part of the VALENTINE BROTHERS, BILLY landed some fairly successful R&B chart hits, including the REAGANOMICS-critiquing “Money’s Too Tight (To Mention),” later famously covered by SIMPLY RED's MICK HUCKNALL and the crate-digger quiet storm classic “Lonely Nights.”
In 1987, he linked up with BOB THIELE JR. and PHIL ROY, and as a trio began collaborating on songs that would ultimately go on to be recorded by RAY CHARLES, THE NEVILLE BROTHERS and both POPS and MAVIS STAPLES.
Added THIELE JR., “It was BILLY’s voice that sold our songs, making them irresistible to the artists who would cover them. Others caught on and BILLY would become the secret weapon of nearly every songwriter in L.A. His vocal performances on demos made their songs (and ours) irresistible to BONNIE RAITT, JOE COCKER, BETTE MIDLER and others. And yet, no one outside of the privileged few knew who BILLY VALENTINE was.”
VALENTINE’s voice continues to pop up on television (as part of the soundtracks for shows such as "Boston Legal" and "Sons Of Anarchy") and in songs by NAS (“Legit”) and AXWELL (“Nobody Else”).