The Rake

LABEL OF LOVE

In 1932, a nine-year-old boy from a devout Muslim family living in London — his father was a diplomat and legal adviser to Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Turkish republic — was taken by his elder brother, Nesuhi, to see the Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway orchestras at the Palladium theatre. “I’d never really seen black people except pictures of great artists like Josephine Baker,” the boy in question, Ahmet Ertegün, later said. “And I’d never heard anything as glorious as those beautiful musicians, wearing great white tails playing these incredibly gleaming horns with drums and rhythm sections unlike you ever heard on records.” The childhood epiphany sparked by this cultural ménage à trois would go on to change the course of popular music.

As teenagers, the family having moved to Washington, D.C., the brothers would comb black neighbourhoods for rare old recordings, and amassed a collection of some 25,000 jazz and blues records.

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