Terri Hinte has been fired by Concord Records. Her name will not mean a thing to most of you, but her work has indirectly benefited serious jazz listeners for decades. The news of her dismissal is of intense interest to many writers because Ms. Hinte is the very model of what a record company publicist should be– deeply knowledgeable about the music and its players, intelligent, responsive, resourceful, helpful in countless substantive ways. She went to work for Fantasy, Inc. in 1973 and was its director of publicity since 1978.
The Fantasy complex of labels contains much of the most important recorded jazz from the 1940s on, as well as significant collections of blues and pop. In addition to Fantasy itself, Prestige, Riverside, Milestone, Contemporary, Pablo, Debut, Galaxy and Stax are under the Fantasy umbrella. Among the artists on those labels are Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, Wes Montgomery, Cal Tjader, Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond, Gerry Mulligan, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins, Art Pepper, Sarah Vaughan and Dizzy Gillespie. The list is much longer, but those names give you an idea of the importance of the Fantasy catalog.
Far from simply sending out review copies and news releases, as many companies do, Terri Hinte made it her business to know the extensive and varied catalog inside out and to understand the importance of the hundreds of musicians who recorded for its labels over more than five decades. Her newsletters and advisories were light years beyond the puffery that passes for publicity in too many precincts of the music business. They contained news that writers about the music, and those who broadcast it, could and did use, resulting in better informed listeners. Her phone calls often brought writers valuable story ideas. The catalogs she produced are valuable reference works packed with information.
Concord bought Fantasy eighteen months ago, fueling speculation among jazz professionals and listeners about what would happen to the invaluable recordings in the Fantasy archives. The dismissal of Ms. Hinte has only increased nervousness about Concord’s intentions concerning the future of those treasures. Concord’s timing was interesting; it let her go on the eve of her recognition with a special A-Team award from the Jazz Journalists Association, which named her “De Facto Curator of Fantasy Records.”
In the current issue of Billboard, reporter Dan Ouellette quotes Concord President Glen Barros.
“We’re committed to jazz and the jazz catalog we’ve invested in.” He adds that he has “tremendous respect” for Hinte as “a great caretaker, proponent and spokesperson” for jazz. “However, when companies merge, there are unfortunate consequences,” Barros says. “But I don’t think Terri’s departure means that we have any less respect for the Fantasy catalog.”
Many musicians, including Sonny Rollins, came to depend on Ms. Hinte for counsel and guidance. She has been Rollins’s only publicist for twenty-eight years. Now, she plans a career as a free lance writer, editor and publicist, continuing to work with Rollins. The Rifftides staff wishes her well.
For a sample of Ms. Hinte’s considerable writing ability, on a subject you may not expect, go here.