Bruce Lundvall Appointed Chairman Emeritus of Blue Note
Ian Ralfini Becomes President of Blue Note and Manhattan Labels
New York, NY, January 7, 2010 – EMI Music has made key appointments at its jazz and adult pop labels in the US. Bruce Lundvall, who has been at the helm of Blue Note for the past 25 years, is appointed Chairman Emeritus of the storied jazz label, where he will continue to play an A&R and product development role. Industry veteran Ian Ralfini, who has been General Manager and Senior Vice President of EMI’s Manhattan Records since 2001, becomes President of the Blue Note and Manhattan labels and will oversee all of their day-to-day operations including A&R and marketing.
Since its very first recording session on January 6, 1939, Blue Note has grown from a small independent label to become the world’s premiere and longest-running Jazz label. Today, Blue Note boasts a legendary catalog as well as a current Jazz roster that keeps the tradition going, including many of today’s most important jazz artists such as Patricia Barber, Bill Charlap Robert Glasper, Lionel Loueke, Joe Lovano, Jason Moran, Aaron Parks, Dianne Reeves, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Cassandra Wilson. The label also tastefully broadened its music pallet beyond jazz to include such acclaimed artists as Priscilla Ahn, Anita Baker, Al Green, Amos Lee, Willie Nelson, Kristina Train and the bird and the bee. In addition, Blue Note is home to Norah Jones, whose 2002 debut “Come Away With Me” was the third best-selling album of the last decade in the US, and whose career sales have just surpassed 40 million worldwide.
As Chairman Emeritus, Lundvall will continue to work in an A&R capacity by finding and developing artists. He will also consult on product and catalog development related to Blue Note’s vast jazz repertoire, which includes such Jazz icons as Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Jimmy Smith, Grant Green, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Donald Byrd, Andrew Hill and Ornette Coleman.
Ralfini is a respected industry veteran who has been involved in the careers of superstars including Fleetwood Mac, Rod Stewart and the Faces, Pete Townshend, Alice Cooper, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Van Morrison The Grateful Dead, Jimmy Buffett, The Rolling Stones, Yes, Led Zeppelin, Judy Collins and the Doors. He will be based in New York and will report to Nick Gatfield, EMI’s President for New Music in North America and the UK. He will direct the day-to-day operations of the labels, including A&R and marketing, at EMI’s Blue Note and Manhattan labels and will also report on a regional basis to Colin Finkelstein, EMI Music President, North America.
“It is an honor to have these inspiring, passionate and experienced music men within the EMI Music family,” said Elio Leoni-Sceti, CEO of EMI Music. “Bruce has built the Blue Note name into one of the world’s most respected brands in music, home to artists who earn both critical and commercial success. And in Ian, we have someone who has a wonderful ability to recognize and develop artistic talent, and to continue leading Blue Note as a label that stands for quality globally.”
“Bruce has done a remarkable job in making Blue Note a true home for a wide range of amazing talent. After an extraordinary 50-year career in music, and 25 of them at Blue Note, we are delighted he will continue to focus on what he loves best: discovering and nurturing top musical talent and continuing the legacy of the finest name in Jazz,” said Gatfield. “No one knows the treasure trove that is Blue Note better than Bruce, and no one is better suited to introduce such an amazing array of material to new generations of music fans.”
“One of Bruce’s best decisions was to bring Ian to EMI to re-launch the Manhattan label back in 2001. Ian is an impressive, creative and energetic music man who is tuned into the core adult audiences that Blue Note and Manhattan serve,” said Gatfield. “He has a holistic understanding of everything that makes a great label, he has a keen grasp of what artists need and great instincts and vision that will help them build their careers. The close collaboration that Ian and Bruce have had for many years will make for a smooth transition.”
“I am extremely honored to continue the amazing legacy that Bruce has established at Blue Note and to build upon the terrific adult pop roster we have at Manhattan,” said Ralfini. “It’s a great privilege to work with such a terrific roster of artists, and to provide the best resources, the best team and the best possible creative home for musical talent.”
“I have the best job in music,” said Lundvall. “I’ll be focused on the music and plus have the opportunity to bring the best of Blue Note to new generations. Ian is the perfect man to run the show.”
IAN RALFINI BIO
Ian Ralfini, who joined EMI in 2001 to re-launch the Manhattan label along with legendary producer Arif Marden, has been involved in many of the biggest selling musical acts of all time. As President of Warner/Elektra/Atlantic (WEA) in the UK, he worked closely with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, The Grateful Dead, Jimmy Buffett, The Rolling Stones, Yes, Led Zeppelin, Van Morrison, Pete Townshend, The Doors, Aretha Franklin, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, among others.
He was also involved in a music supervisor capacity for soundtracks for “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Far From The Madding Crowd,” “Dr Zivago,” and also engaged Herbie Hancock to score Antonioni’s “Blow Up.”
While in the UK, he signed artists such as Fleetwood Mac, America, Rod Stewart and The Faces, Alice Cooper and ACE. He later became owner of US label Shelter, whose roster included Tom Petty, Phoebe Snow and Leon Russell.
Ralfini’s arrival in the US came just as the music video business was blossoming. He joined independent production company Vestron Video to run the first dedicated music video unit. As an SVP at Vestron Video he drove the release of the biggest selling music video at that time; the “Making Of Michael Jackson’s Thriller,” which sold more than a million units. He later spearheaded the release of The Rolling Stones’ “Video Rewind” and Elton John’s “Night and Day.”
For several years, he worked as an executive under Atlantic Records’ Ahmet Ertegun. During his tenure at Manhattan Records, Ralfini has worked closely with artists such as Sarah Brightman, Celtic Woman, Van Morrison, Art Garfunkel, Anne Murray, Diana Ross, and Rosanne Cash whose latest release, “The List,” has been a one of her most critical and commercial successes of her career. He has also been an instrumental part of Sarah Brightman’s success (she is the world’s biggest selling soprano, with 23 million units sold). Ian also oversaw the incredibly successful Celtic Woman campaign, (4 million-plus units sold in the US alone).
Ralfini served as President of the Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Foundation for 18 years, raising in excess of $20 million to support a clinic for disabled children at NYU. He was also the head of the Atlantic Records Foundation which raised monies to help musicians that fell on hard times. Ralfini is currently on the advisory Board of the Skirball Theatre at New York University.
BRUCE LUNDVALL BIO
Entering his 50th year in the music business, Bruce Lundvall is legendary for his ready wit, his signature open-hearted laugh and most important, his devotion to music and his long-proven touch for artists who can make a significant statement. He has signed a mind-boggling array of stylistically varied artists. Among them: Willie Nelson, Herbie Hancock, Phoebe Snow, Dexter Gordon, James Taylor, Peter Tosh, Return to Forever, McCoy Tyner, Paquito D’Rivera, Stan Getz, Wynton Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin, Steps Ahead, Ruben Blades, Stanley Jordan, Dianne Reeves, Rachelle Ferrell, Joe Lovano, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Max Roach, Cassandra Wilson, Jacky Terrasson and Norah Jones.
In 2009, the Blue Note label marked its 70th anniversary, and Lundvall celebrated 25 years as the head of Blue Note, one of the best-known music label brands in the world. He continues the legacy as Chairman Emeritus, by playing an active role in A&R and in developing new ways to introduce the most storied name in jazz to new audiences.
After graduating from Bucknell University, with a B.S. in Commerce and Finance, he landed an entry level job at Columbia Records. Lundvall stayed at Columbia Records for 21 years. By 1969, he was Vice President of Marketing; by 1974, Vice President and General Manager of the Columbia label; by 1976, President of the domestic division of CBS Records. In the course of his tenure, he built Columbia’s jazz roster into the largest of any major label, powered by stars such as Stan Getz, Chick Corea’s Return to Forever, Dexter Gordon, Wynton Marsalis and Herbie Hancock, who was the first artist Lundvall signed to Columbia. Always eager to expand the jazz connection, in 1979 Lundvall conceived and directed the historic Havana Jam, the first concerts held in Cuba by American artists in two decades. He also signed everything from soundtracks of Broadway shows such as Annie and Barnum to country and western acts such as Larry Gatlin and Rosanne Cash, and rock artists Toto and Steven Stills.
Lundvall moved to Elektra in 1982, where he became president of the newly created Elektra/Musician label, as well as Senior Vice President of Elektra/Asylum. While there, Elektra/Musician became home for the great jazzers such as Bobby McFerrin, Bill Evans, Kevin Eubanks and Woody Shaw. In addition, the label won the Down Beat 1982 Critics Award for Best Jazz Label. The next year, Lundvall became president of the reconstituted Elektra/Asylum/Nonesuch label, signing Howard Jones, Bill Laswell, Steel Pulse and Ruben Blades.
In 1984, he was approached with an offer to create Manhattan, a pop music label based on the East Coast, for EMI, as well as to revive the legendary, long-suspended Blue Note jazz label. The first artist Lundvall signed was Stanley Jordan, whose first Blue Note release, “Magic Touch,” reached #1 on the Jazz charts, went gold and stayed on the charts for 52 weeks. By 1986, Manhattan earned a Grammy Award for its original soundtrack recording of the Broadway smash, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. To Manhattan, Lundvall signed Natalie Cole (two gold albums), Richard Marx (five multi-platinum albums), Rachelle Ferrell (gold), and Robbie Neville (one gold album). In addition, Blue Note artist Bobby McFerrin had a platinum album and soon earned four Grammy Awards, Dexter Gordon one, and Blue Note was named Label of the Year by two jazz magazines. Through the 90′s Lundvall continued to drive Blue Note’s creative excellence, with hip-hop jazz collective US3 scoring a platinum album. He also brought sax player Dave Koz to EMI, signing him to Capitol Records. And in 2001, he signed Norah Jones after meeting her in his office and listening to her demo recording. Together with Lundvall and Blue Note, Jones’ has gone on to become one of the decade’s biggest selling artists, with more than 40 million albums sold and 9 GRAMMY® Awards to her credit. The label expanded its roster to include Anita Baker (with a gold album), Al Green (with multiple Grammy Awards), Amos Lee and Willie Nelson, among others.
In 2009, The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), the producer of The GRAMMY® Awards, held a special tribute to Blue Note and Lundvall. He also received a Creative Achievement honor from the T.J. Martell Foundation, one of the music industry’s most prestigious charities, for whom Lundvall has also been a member of the Martell Foundation’s board of directors (he was also honored by Martell in 1977). He has been Chairman of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA); Chairman of the Country Music Association (CMA); 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, and most recently, The Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. In 1996, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jazz Foundation of America and the Russ Sanjek Award, for major contributions to recording art who are not primarily A&R producers. He has earned three Grammy nominations and a NARM presidential award.