JOEL DORN by Bill Reed
Born in Philadelphia, PA in 1942, when he was twenty-one Joel Dorn became a disc jockey in that city. A few years later, as the result of a ten-year letter writing campaign to Atlantic Records executive, Nesuhi Ertegun, he was hired as a record producer at the label. Over the past 35 years, first for that company and later for a number of labels, he has overseen the making of a staggering number of albums; by rough estimate, around 300. The forward-looking Dorn has never even bothered to keep track of such mundane things as facts and figures. Over the past three decades he has proved adept not just in the field of jazz recording, but rock, gospel, pop, folk, rhythm and blues, and all the multiple fusions and variations therein. He has at least a few inarguable classic recordings under his belt as the result of collaborating in the studio with the likes of Roberta Flack (his discovery), Eddie Harris, Les McCann, Mose Allison, Bette Midler, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Marion Williams, Ray Bryant, Les McCann, Leon Redbone, Sonny Stitt and approximately 130 other groups and solo artists. At the present time he is producer of choice for popular jazz vocalist Jane Monheit. So vast are his contributions, I decided to concentrate on three artists with whom he has worked: Rahsaan Roland Kirk, an enthusiasm of my editor here at Record Collectors’; the Neville Brothers, a personal favorite of Dorn‘s; and Little Jimmy Scott, a performer for whom I possess not only a great deal of affection but also, like several of my friends, a good deal of curiosity.
The prospect of interviewing and subsequently writing an article about Joel Dorn for “Record Collectors‘” ahead of me, I began to try and figure out how to best avoid going over the top with adjectives, i. e. the “best,” “most,” “greatest,” “legendary” etc. For no one is more likely to bring this weakness out in any writer than this---there’s no getting around it---legendary music industry figure. Thus I decided to present my talk with him, which took place in New York City in early December 2001, as a question-and-answer session and let the facts---and Dorn----speak for themselves.
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