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Date Stamp: June 4, 2007
In the late '60s, three Jazz musicians - Cal Tjader, Gary McFarland and Gabor Szabo - became tired of dealing with labels telling them what to do. Annoying A&R reps that knew nothing of music were trying to direct their careers. They decided to take things into their own hands. Skye Recordings began its existence in 1968 beginning with Cal Tjader’s Solar Heat record. It was a completely artist run label, directed by the manager of three musicians, Norman Grantz. The label allowed the artist total control of everything; the song selection, session musicians, arrangements, production, cover art, and liner notes. When you hold a Skye record in your hand it reeks of quality, (beautiful psychedelic cover art, thick well mastered vinyl, a gatefold printed on nice stock) you can tell they cared about what they were producing. All three musicians had a similar approach in mind, mixing popular sounds with jazz flavors. Gabor Szabo had the most success with his records (both in sales and radio), but the label could only last a few short years due to lack of sales and funding, and folded in 1971. Gary McFarland died shortly thereafter in a bizarre story that involves him drinking a glass of liquid methadone at a bar and having an instant heart attack. Cal Tjader went on to record for Fantasy and Gabor recorded with CTI, Salvation and Mercury. They both died in 1982. Skye was an interesting part of these three musicians’ lives, as it was the only time in their recording careers that they maintained complete control of their art. It shows in the music, and the Skye catalogue (although fairly small) holds many gems.