Signing Story: Ted Poor

Date Signed: December 2018

Label: New Deal / Impulse! (Verve Label Group / Universal Music Group)

Type of Music: Jazz

Management: Thomas Wilson

Booking: N/A

Legal: N/A

Publicity: Ashley Natareno

Web: tedpoor.com

A&R: Tony Berg & Blake Mills

Currently based in Seattle, New York-born drummer Ted Poor has a knack for attracting musical opportunities. His first big break came as a drummer for bassist Todd Sicakfoose’s band. Sickafoose introduced Poor to prolific, multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird, who took notice of Poor’s chops during a gig and helped introduce him to the Los Angeles music scene. When changing up his band and working on new music, Bird invited Poor to work in a recording session in 2014. Numerous fortuitous opportunities ensued.

During the session with Bird, Poor met guitarist Blake Mills, resulting in both a friendship and a musical collaboration. Bird had also introduced Poor to engineer David Boucher, who mentioned that producer Mike Viola (A&R at Verve Records) wanted to hear more about what they were doing. At about the same time, Mills had received an imprint label (New Deal) through Verve and was looking to sign talent. “There’s a very short list of great drummers who are also great writers,” notes Verve Records Executive VP Jamie Krents. “These recordings are all about the songs and his chemistry with Andrew D’Angelo and Blake Mills.”

Mills knew about Viola’s interest in the new sound that he and Poor were creating. A push followed to sign Poor to the new label. In 2018, while Mills and New Deal A&R Executive Tony Berg discussed the potential for a new record and what it would include, Poor drew from an earlier collection of duets recorded with D’Angelo two years previous, which was what originally piqued everyone’s interest. From there, a decision was made to start with the duets, adding strings and piano to complete the sound, and newer compositions were also added to the album.

Once the plan was in place and the contract was signed (which took about six months from the first discussions), Poor flew to New York to meet with Jamie Krents to finalize the legal details through Verve. The deal is a 360 with a commitment of two records and an option for more. “When I think of how it all came together, I am very heartened by the whole thing,” Poor says. “It is clearly all about the music.”