When my father ran the Masterworks division of Columbia Records, the company released
specialized projects under the “Legacy” label. They were boxed sets, elaborately and impeccably
produced, and packaged with style and class including extensive notes.
If anyone is keeping the spirit of that series alive, it is Bill Rudman and Ken Bloom—and TMTP’s
Harbinger Records. Good on them to find a way to keep important recordings available for
those of us who love all aspects of musical theater and the Great American Songbook.
I’ve known Ken and Bill for years, and when they had the idea to create Harbinger, I felt it was a noble, and probably foolhardy, idea. But wait! They got Maxine Sullivan and then Peggy Lee to venture into recording studios—I was impressed. Because they had a sharp focus about what they wanted from those recordings, the artists responded, and the results were superb.
And their ability to dive into songwriters’ tapes of demos and ephemera, combined with discreet new recordings, in a Hidden Treasures series, illuminated musical theater creators in ear-opening ways. They even found piano rolls recorded in the 1920’s by Richard Rodgers that I didn’t know existed! Stunning.
They are still at it, and we are all the beneficiaries. Any time they have reached out to me, I’ve done what I could, from providing notes (like this one) to getting the Rodgers & Hammerstein Foundation to make unique grants to several albums in the Hidden Treasures series. Thankfully, each Harbinger release is painstakingly edited, sonically clean and elegantly presented.
And extraordinarily classy.