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Remembering Michael Cuscana

Blue Note Records' legacy attributed to legendary Producer/Archivist

In recent times, it feels like we've been losing important figures in the music community too frequently. Just this month, we said goodbye to saxophonist Casey Benjamin and drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath, among others. But the most recent loss that hit me hard was that of Michael Cuscana, the legendary producer and re-issue maestro behind so much of the best jazz music.

Michael Cuscana

Michael Cuscana was a key player in the revival of Blue Note Records during the 1980s and 90s, working alongside then-president Bruce Lundvall. He co-founded the iconic Mosaic Records in 1982, a label that kept the spirit of Blue Note alive through rare releases and comprehensive reissue box sets. For anyone like me who fell in love with jazz and Black American Music through vinyl, Michael Cuscana was a guiding light. Mosaic Records was where you went if you wanted the complete Thad Jones and Mel Lewis Orchestra live at The Village Vanguard or the entire works of Donald Byrd and Pepper Adams. Michael was responsible for carefully archiving original recording tapes and deciding what gems to reissue from the original masters.

His impact on the music and the preservation of its legacy cannot be overstated. His dedication to bringing out the best of Blue Note and other jazz classics ensured that generations of music lovers could experience the magic of these recordings. He leaves behind a legacy that will continue to inspire and delight enthusiasts for years to come. Rest in peace, Michael.

Photo credit: Jimmy Katz


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