May 20, 2015
Bruce Lundvall, the former CEO of Blue Note Records and a man with an uncanny ability to identify talent in jazz music, died May 19, 2015. He was 79 years old, and had been living in a senior assisted living center in New Jersey for complications related to his battle with Parkinson's disease.
Lundvall is credited with signing acts as varied as Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Dexter Gordon and Stan Getz in jazz, and Natalie Cole, James Taylor, and Anita Baker in pop and soul. He helped revive the moribund Blue Note label in the 1980’s by re-signing veterans like Freddie Hubbard and McCoy Tyner and bringing into the fold contemporary jazz artists such as Dianne Reeves, Cassandra Wilson, Michel Petrucciani, John Scofield, Charlie Hunter US3 and Medeski Martin & Wood.
His tenure at Blue Note was not without criticism, as for every Greg Osby, Jason Moran or Ambrose Akinmusire he signed, there were more commercial artists like Amos Lee, Willie Nelson and Al Green coming to label known and prized by so many for its jazz artistry. His signing of Norah Jones, hardly a jazz heavyweight, nevertheless allowed much needed exposure to the revived label, culminating with Ms. Jones’ winning eight Grammy Awards in 2003. He resigned from Blue Note in 2010, eventually replaced by musician Don Was, who has continued the practice of signing non-jazz artists.
He was the subject of a 2014 biography by Dan Ouellette, entitled Bruce Lundvall: Playing by Ear. Lundvall is survived by his wife and three sons. A private family service will be followed by a forthcoming public service, details will be announced shortly. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that a donation be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.