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BRUCE LUNDVALL, 1935-2015

Bruce Lundvall, the legendary music exec best known for his tenure leading Blue Note Records, has died at age 79 of complications from Parkinson's Disease.

The New Jersey-born Lundvall's career spanned five decades and multiple labels, including Columbia, CBS and Elektra. He signed Willie Nelson, Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, James Taylor, Natalie ColeBobby McFerrinWynton Marsalis and Norah Jones, among many others acts, and received Lifetime Achivement Awards from the Jazz Foundation of America and Down Beat, as well as the UCLA Gershwin Award (among other plaudits). 

A statement from NARAS CEO Neil Portnow reads as follows:

"Over the course of more than five decades, Recording Academy Trustees Award recipient Bruce Lundvall discovered, signed, promoted and guided the careers of some of the most respected artists in the world. In addition to his keen ear and knack for recognizing superstar talent, Bruce was an extraordinarily kind and compassionate man, making him one of the music industry’s most notable and respected figures. Our music community has lost an influential, trailblazing and dynamic friend and his passion for music will forever live on. Our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends, and to all who have had the pleasure and good fortune of having known or worked with him."

A statement from Blue Note can be read in its entirety here; the conclusion reads:

Over the course of a music industry career spanning more than 50 years, Bruce was the rare record label executive who was universally loved and trusted. He steadfastly believed in putting artists first, letting the music lead and the commerce follow. Bruce received countless awards including the 2011 GRAMMY Trustees Award and the Jazz Foundation of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He served as the Chairman of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA); Director of the National Association of Recording Artists and Science (NARAS); Director of the T.J. Martell Foundation for Leukemia Research, the industry's most prestigious charity. He is the namesake of the Montreal Jazz Festival’s Bruce Lundvall Award as well asJazzTimes magazine’s Bruce Lundvall Visionary Award, both of which honor prominent non-musicians who have left a mark on the world of jazz. Bruce’s authorized biography, Playing By Ear by author Dan Ouellette, was released last year.

As a testament to Bruce’s unbreakable spirit, just last year in August 2014 as he struggled against the effects of Parkinson’s, Bruce organized a jazz festival at his assisted-living facility in New Jersey that featured Jones, Reeves, Ravi Coltrane, Chucho Valdes, Bill Charlap, Renee Rosnes and others as a benefit for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Bruce is survived by his wife Kay; three sons: Tor, Kurt and his wife Blythe, and Eric and his wife Johanna; as well as two grandchildren: Rayna and Kerstin. A private family service will be followed by a forthcoming public service, details will be announced shortly. In lieu of flowers, Bruce’s family requests that a donation be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

 

 

Those who knew Bruce will recall that he would often invite colleagues to the bar for "a bowl of truth." We lift such a bowl in his honor.

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