Irving Townsend

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Irving Townsend
Irving Townsend.jpg
Born Irving Joseph Townsend Jr.
Died 1981 (aged 61)
Occupation Producer & Author
Nationality American
Education Princeton [1][2]
Genre Jazz

Irving Townsend (1920–1981) was an American record producer and author. He is most famous for having co-produced, with Teo Macero, the Miles Davis album Kind of Blue, which is the best-selling jazz album of all time according to the RIAA. He later served as president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States.[3][4]

Townsend, a former jazz bandleader, became an advertising copywriter for Columbia Records. He then convinced George Avakian to have him assist on recording sessions, and by the mid-1950s he was a full-time producer. He became Davis's producer after the departures of Avakian and Cal Lampley.[5]

Townsend wrote many liner notes for Columbia, [6][7] including notes for the album Black, Brown and Beige, by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, Featuring Mahalia Jackson.[8] In 1975, Townsend wrote an article in The Atlantic Monthly called, "Ellington In Private" detailing his meeting with Duke at Newport Jazz Festival in 1956 which led to Ellington's subsequent signing with Columbia. [9]

In a passage from Music Is My Mistress, an autobiography by Duke Ellington Ellington writes:

"Irving Townsend is a very sensitive musician. He plays clarinet in a trip symphony, one of those groups that includes doctors, lawyers and accountants who worked their way through college as professional musicians and who like to get together once or twice a week to try out their chops. He is now executive producer for Columbia Records on the West Coast.

"As an A. and R. man he is wonderful. He has full knowledge of the mechanics of the business, and he also has such understanding that he seems to know what the artist is trying to get without going into long-winded rigamarole of rules and regulations, and without being swayed by what some other artist did last week. I love him and his whole beautiful family. We are indebted to him for having produced many of our favorite and most satisfactory records."[10]

Select Discography as Producer[edit]

As Author[edit]


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  3. ^ Billboard Magazine 1968
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  5. ^ Kahn, Ashley (2001). Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece, p. 91. Da Capo Press.
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  10. ^ Ellington, Duke (1973; 1976 reprt). Music Is My Mistress, pp. 247-48. Da Capo Press.
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