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Noted Atlantic Jazz Producer Joel Dorn Passes Away at 65


Joel Dorn, the producer behind many of Atlantic Records’
most successful jazz releases, passed away suddenly yesterday. He was 65.

Dorn’s affiliation with Atlantic spanned decades, beginning as an independent producer for the label in the early 1960s. He soon joined the company’s legendary in-house production staff, and with mentor Nesuhi Ertegun, recorded some of the greatest jazz artists of the era before branching out with equal success into pop, rock, and R&B. When Rhino began to reissue the Atlantic jazz catalog in 1993, Dorn spearheaded the campaign, producing and annotating nearly two dozen titles. In addition to his work for Atlantic and Rhino, Dorn released archival recordings on his own labels Night, M, and 32 Records (including the highly successful Jazz For A Rainy Afternoon compilations).

Born on April 7, 1942, Joel Dorn grew up in Philadelphia and took to music at an early age, working as a disc jockey for local station WHAT-FM while still in his teens. Inspired by Ray Charles’ iconic recordings for Atlantic, Dorn began corresponding with Nesuhi Ertegun, a relationship that eventually led to a job at the label’s New York office in May of 1967. It was an age of musical exploration, in jazz as well as rock, and Dorn’s approach behind the boards -- fashioning a framework that would allow musicians maximum freedom -- brought out the best in such artists as Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Les McCann, Eddie Harris, Yusef Lateef, and Herbie Mann.

It was an approach that worked equally well in the pop and R&B arenas. In 1972 and 1973, Dorn won consecutive “Record Of The Year” GRAMMYS as producer of Roberta Flack’s hits “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “Killing Me Softly With His Song.” Dorn was also at the helm for seminal releases from the likes of Bette Midler (The Divine Miss M), The Allman Brothers (Idlewild South), Leon Redbone (On The Track), The Neville Brothers (Fiyo On The Bayou), and many others.

“Joel bridged the worlds of jazz and pop with enormous skill and grace, never compromising the integrity of his artists and their music,” remarked Edgar Bronfman Jr., Chairman and CEO of the Warner Music Group. “A great character, he loved and understood the music, and he had the rare gift of identifying genuine talent and drawing out their best work. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Joel’s entire family and many friends during this very difficult time.”

Source: Warner Music Group


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