Thursday, June 29, 2006

Arif Mardin - Legendary Producer and Arranger Dies

Arif Mardin, the legendary record producer and arranger for many great singers, has died in New York City of pancreatic cancer at age 74. He was one of three major producers for Atlantic Records, along with Tom Dowd and Jerry Wexler, although only Arif was an arranger as well. He was one of the most successful behind the scenes music figures in popular music in the last half-century.

Arif Mardin is responsible for arranging the pop-soul-gospel sound that catapulted Aretha Franklin to the top of the charts, resulting in her being named "Queen Of Soul". Born in Istanbul, Turkey, he worked with Atlantic Records founders and fellow Turks, brothers Ahmet Ertegun and Nesuhi Ertegen for nearly four decades, beginning in 1963 until re retired in 2001. However that did not last long, as he became Senior Vice-President and Co-General Manager of Manhattan Records, an EMI label. His first project was the ground-breaking success of the debut album by Nora Jones, Come Away With Me.

During his amazing career, Arif Mardin worked alongside some very "high end" artists, producing some of their biggest hits including The Bee Gees (Jive Talkin'), Judy Collins (Send In The Clowns), Bette Midler (The Wind Beneath My Wings), Phil Collins (Against My Wings), Carly Simon (You Belong To Me) and Chaka Khan (I'm Every Woman).

He is also credited with the term "blue-eyed soul", by taking the "Atlantic Sound" and applying it to white musicians such as Dusty Springfield, Darryl Hall and John Oates, Average White Band, and The Bee Gees.

Arif Mardin was a self-taught arranger and composer, and while at a jazz concert in Istanbul he met Quincy Jones who was so impressed with his work that Arif became the recipient of the first Quincy Jones Scholarship at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

At the time of his death, he was working with his son Joe Mardin, co-producing an album of Arif's own compositions and performed by many artists including Norah Jones, Bette Midler, Chaka Khan, Carly Simon, and others.

As a long time fan of all those wonderful Atlantic Records artists, I am grateful and thankful to Arif Mardin for his creativity and passion for music.

Arif Mardin, R.I.P.

Michael Godin