Art & Entertainment

Michael Cuscuna Dies At 75: Grammy-Winning Jazz Record Producer Passes Away After Battling Cancer

Three-time Grammy winner Michael Cuscuna has passed away at the age of 75 due to cancer.

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Michael Cuscuna Photo: X
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Michael Cuscuna, the three-time Grammy winner, co-founder of Mosaic Records, historian, and archivist who produced hundreds of jazz compositions throughout his decades-long career, has passed away at the age of 75.

Cuscuna passed away on Saturday, April 20 from cancer at his residence in Stamford, Connecticut, as confirmed by Grammy-winning recording artist Billy Vera, a close friend and collaborator of Cuscuna’s for many years.

The news of his demise was confirmed on Monday by the record label Blue Note, for which he produced reissues and studio sessions in the late 1970s. He also contributed his talents to numerous other labels, including Impulse, Motown, ABC, Arista, Freedom, Novus, Muse, and Elektra.

“It is not easy to bid farewell to a best friend, knowing that it’s a final goodbye,” Blue Note wrote, further adding, “Michael Cuscuna was one of the best friends this music has had.”

Born in Stamford on September 20, 1948, Cuscuna demonstrated his musical prowess from a young age, mastering the drums, saxophone, and flute during his teenage years. His multifaceted career in the music industry included roles as a progressive rock DJ, and music journalist. His deep understanding of music history led him to write liner notes for albums by renowned artists such as Buddy Guy, Chris Smither, Ken Nordine, and Bonnie Raitt.

Collaborating with his business partner and a former CBS executive, Charlie Lourie, he established Mosaic Records in 1983, specializing in jazz reissue box sets sold through mail order. Nominated nine times in total, Cuscuna was awarded Grammys in 1993, 1998, and 2002 for his production of box sets featuring the music of Nat King Cole, Miles Davis, and Billie Holiday, respectively.

Cuscuna is survived by his wife, Lisa, his children Max and Lauren, and his grandchildren Nicolas and Penelope.

He has truly left behind a legacy, especially in the world of jazz. May his soul rest in peace.

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