Former CEO of Blue Note Records and a key figure in jazz music, Bruce Lundvall died yesterday, May 19. He was 79 years old.
Lundvall had been living in a senior assisted living center in New Jersey for complications related to his battle with Parkinson’s, according to biographer Dan Ouellette, who wrote the book Bruce Lundvall: Playing By Ear.
Blue Note released this statement:
“Born in Englewood, New Jersey in 1935, Bruce was a lifelong jazz lover whose passion for the music was ignited by Clifford Brown, Charlie Parker & the other beboppers he heard as an underage teenager at clubs along West 52nd Street in New York City in the 1950s.
A self-described “failed saxophone player,” Bruce took an entry level marketing job at Columbia Records in 1960 and over the following two decades rose to lead the North American division of the label, signing artists including Dexter Gordon, Herbie Hancock, Stan Getz, Wynton Marsalis & Willie Nelson. After launching the Elektra/Musician label in 1982, he received the offer of a lifetime in 1984 when EMI approached him about reviving Blue Note Records which had been dormant for several years. He jumped at the chance, partnering with producer Michael Cuscuna to bring back the label’s earlier stars like Jimmy Smith, McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson & Jackie McLean, and signing new artists including Dianne Reeves, Cassandra Wilson, Michel Petrucciani, John Scofield, Charlie Hunter and Medeski Martin & Wood.
Under Bruce’s stewardship Blue Note established itself as the most-respected and longest-running jazz label in the world. He presided over a prosperous nearly 30-year period of the label’s history, reaching commercial heights with artists including Bobby McFerrin, Us3, Norah Jones, Al Green and Amos Lee, while recording some of the most important jazz artists of our time including Joe Lovano, Greg Osby, Jason Moran, Robert Glasper, Ambrose Akinmusire, Don Pullen, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Terence Blanchard, Jacky Terrasson, and many others.”
Our condolences go to Bruce’s family and friends.