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Joel Dorn: 1942-2007
Joel Dorn
Record producer, archivist, label executive

Born: April 7, 1942 in Yeadon, Pennsylvania
Died: December 17, 2007 in New York City, New York

Obituary

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Influential record producer and label executive

Copyright © 2007 

Joel Dorn, who devoted his entire life to music and had success as a disc jockey, record producer and label executive, died of a heart attack at 65.

Attracted to the early recordings of Ray Charles, The Drifters and other artists on the Atlantic label, Dorn began writing to label co-founder Nesuhi Ertegun at the age of 14, hoping to land a job. In 1961, he started working on the air at the Philadelphia jazz station WHAT-FM, where he became influential through his ability to break new artists and recordings.

His years of correspondence with Ertegun paid off in 1963, when he was offered the opportunity to produce the Atlantic artist of his choice. Dorn chose Hubert Laws, a young flutist with Mongo Santamaria, and produced The Laws Of Jazz. Over the following decade, his work for Atlantic Records -- which he joined as a full-time employee in 1967 -- garnered five platinum albums, 10 albums that were certified gold, and seven gold singles. Among the influential artists he worked with at Atlantic were: Roberta Flack, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, The Allman Brothers Band, Bette Midler and Keith Jarrett.

Dorn left Atlantic to freelance in 1974, and went on to produce recordings for The Neville Brothers, Leon Redbone, Lou Rawls and Peter Allen, on labels including Capitol, Warner Brothers, Columbia, A&M and Arista.

In the mid-1980s, he scaled back his studio work and began to travel extensively in the U.S., collecting unreleased live recordings -- work that would help fuel the boom in archival box sets. He started his own label, Night Records, to release collections of Cannonball Adderley, Kirk, and Les McCann and Eddie Harris, and then became a consultant to Rhino, GRP and Columbia to supervise historical compilations. This work resulted in landmark boxes of Atlantic's rich jazz catalogue, including a 13-CD box of various artists and The Heavyweight Champion -- a seven-CD set of John Coltrane's Atlantic recordings.

In 1995, Dorn founded 32 Records, which focused on archival recordings from the libraries of Muse, Landmark and Atlantic. In the next four years, 32 Records reissued more than 250 titles, including the best-selling Jazz For A Rainy Afternoon.

During his final decade, he produced a number of young artists who caught his ear, including percussionist Leon Parker, singer Jane Monheit and the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, and continued his archival work. In 2003, Dorn co-founded Hyena Records, which was responsible for both new and archival material. At the time of his death, he was completing a five-CD tribute to Nesuhi Ertegun and producing a series of music infomercials for Time-Warner. He was also a host on Sirius Satellite Radio.

Dorn is survived by three sons, including Adam Dorn who performs under the name Mocean Worker, and his longtime companion Faye Rosen.

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Copyright © 2007

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