×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Judd Apatow Ushers Grandfather Bob Shad’s Jazz Label Into the Streaming Age

Producer, director and writer Judd Apatow is best known for making people laugh, but he and his sister, Mia, have been working on something more tuneful over the past couple years: the rerelease of jazz and blues recordings from a label that featured the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry and Sarah Vaughan, and was built by legendary jazz, blues and early R&B producer Bob Shad — who also happened to be the Apatows’ grandfather.

On Oct. 6, the relaunched Mainstream Records label will reissue catalog albums from sax men Harold Land (“A New Shade of Blue”) and Buddy Terry (“Awareness”). That follows two spiritually minded compilations dropped to test the waters: last year’s “Feeling Good” and this year’s “Innerpeace.”

“We always knew our grandfather’s music was loved by hard-core jazz and blues heads, but wouldn’t it be great if more people could hear it and love it in the streaming age,” Apatow says. “His music always sounds like everyone is having a ball.”

Apatow, still high from his first stand-up comedy tour in more than 20 years (a Netflix special debuts in December), is also leaning on a music theme for his current theatrical release, “May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers,” a documentary he produced on the alternative-country sensations that also will air on HBO in January.

“I have a soft spot for underappreciated artists,” Apatow muses, “something that stems from my grandfather’s love of jazz and blues, and having a label that, in the late ’60s and early ’70s, didn’t quite jibe with the times.”

Shad held the keys to several labels, such as Mainstream, founded in 1964. Besides dropping new and reissued jazz albums, it released comedy platters from Dickie Goodman (“the filthiest jokes I heard until that point,” laughs Apatow) as well as debut recordings from Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company and Ted Nugent’s Amboy Dukes. “Everyone thinks Clive Davis is responsible for Janis, but my grandfather signed her first. My father was Nugent’s first manager.” Joke with the famously liberal Apatow about having anything to do with the staunchly Republican Nugent, and the director says, “I couldn’t agree less with him, but that doesn’t mean his albums don’t rock hard.”

Apatow describes Shad as a funny guy from the Bronx with a lot of attitude. “He gave people a hard time,” he says. “Example: the Blues Brothers. He hated them because he loved and even knew the guys who originated the original blues stuff. Why would people buy Belushi and Aykroyd? Why wouldn’t they just buy the real artists those guys were referencing? He could be irrational: He also hated Jimi Hendrix because he knew where the guitarist stole his riffs. The ‘Jaws’ soundtrack too — he knew the classical pieces that came from. Bob liked to show off that way.”

Young Apatow was only beginning to “get” jazz at age 17, when he was a DJ at his high school radio station, WKWZ in Syosset, N.Y. “I was their jazz DJ, and I started to understand that music on my own. I was excited and was going to visit [my grandfather] to aggressively discuss this music, but he died from a heart attack [in 1985] before I made that trip.”

Apatow has honored Shad in his films and television shows. In music comedy “Walk Hard,” Craig Robinson’s character is named Bob Shad. The producer-director also used Nugent’s “Journey to the Center of the Mind” in “Freaks and Geeks.” In “The Cable Guy,” Jim Carrey sings a twisted take on “Salt Peanuts” by Charlie Parker, one of Shad’s productions.

“My grandfather got Parker his union card. He paid for Alan Freed’s funeral. He was a poor kid with attitude who invented himself and therefore helped invent the record business.” The music that Mia and Judd Apatow will rerelease as part of the rediscovery of the Mainstream catalog is proof of that claim.

“A lot of Mainstream music — like Jack Wilkins’ funky ‘Red Clay’ — gets sampled by hip-hop artists all the time,” says Apatow, pointing out that Chance the Rapper’s “NaNa” track with Action Bronson does so (“with the dirtiest language,” he says).

“Shad’s Mainstream label was eclectic stuff at a time when that sort of music wasn’t necessarily the hottest thing happening,” Apatow notes. “My grandfather kept many musical styles alive by supporting jazz and blues right when they were losing favor. Now seems about the right time to reinvestigate those sounds.”

(Pictured: Freddie Robinson, Joe Sample, Blue Mitchell, Bob Shad and Herman Riley in 1973.)

More Biz

  • CAA HQ LA

    Ex-Agent Stuart Manashil Ordered to Repay CAA in Fraud Case

    Former literary agent Stuart Manashil was ordered on Thursday to repay a $23,975 commission to CAA, which he admitted he had illegally diverted to a friend. Manashil, who now runs his own management company, pleaded guilty in March 2018 to a federal wire fraud charge. In a letter to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, Manashil [...]

  • "The Continent," directed by Chinese racer

    Alibaba Pictures Buys Into Chinese Director Han Han's Film Studio

    Alibaba Pictures confirmed that it has invested an undisclosed amount in Chinese celebrity blogger-turned-film director Han Han’s Shanghai Tingdong Film. Han’s upcoming “Pegasus” is one of the most anticipated films of the year in China. Alibaba Pictures, part of e-commerce giant Alibaba, is now the second-largest stakeholder in Tingdong. It has a 13.1% stake, according to Chinese [...]

  • Phil McIntyre Steps Down as Roc

    Phil McIntyre Steps Down From Roc Nation Management, but Remains Affiliated With Company

    Phil McIntyre has stepped down as president of Roc Nation Management, but his PhilyMack management company remains affiliated with Roc, a source close to the situation tells Variety. PhilyMack, which McIntyre founded in 2006, partnered with Roc Nation in 2015. The source stressed that McIntyre’s role at Roc Nation Management  — whose clients include Rihanna, [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein Trial

    Ben Brafman Drops Out of Harvey Weinstein Rape Case

    Harvey Weinstein has officially parted ways with defense attorney Ben Brafman, releasing a joint statement Thursday announcing the move. Weinstein had clashed with his defense attorney over strategy in his rape and sexual assault case. The pair issued a statement saying their parting was amicable, and that Brafman would cooperate fully with Weinstein’s new attorneys. [...]

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Turns in Record Q4 Subscriber Gain, Price Increase Weighs on U.S. Forecast

    Netflix is beating Wall Street expectations for international subscriber growth — but its recently announced price increase in the U.S. may have put a damper on its momentum in the States. For the fourth quarter of 2018, Netflix reported 1.53 million paid net adds in the U.S. and 7.31 million internationally, to end the year [...]

  • Heather Parry Live Nation

    Live Nation Investigation of Heather Parry Also Targets Leakers (EXCLUSIVE)

    Over the past two weeks, the law firm of Paul Hastings LLP has been probing allegations reported by Variety last month that Heather Parry, the head of Live Nation Productions, had verbally abused employees and used offensive language in the workplace. But the lead investigator, Elena Baca, seems to be just as interested in uncovering [...]

  • Leslie Moonves

    Leslie Moonves to Pursue Arbitration for His $120 Million Severance From CBS

    Former CBS Corp. chairman-CEO Leslie Moonves will pursue an arbitration claim to fight CBS for the $120 million severance that he was denied last month when the company’s board of directors determined he was fired for cause. Moonves was ousted in September after multiple women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the longtime [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content