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Mardin Magic: A Tribute to Producer Arif Mardin

Christopher Loudon on All My Friends Are Here, a tribute to the late Arif Mardin

Carly Simon

Unintentionally of course, Arif Mardin crafted his own eulogy. Naturally, given Mardin’s stature as arguably the most accomplished arranger/producer of the past half-century – the genius responsible for everything from Dusty Springfield’s landmark Dusty In Memphis to Barry Gibb’s career-altering falsetto, the stratospheric launch of the Average White Band and the equally meteoritic blast-off of Norah Jones – it is shaped of music. Mardin aptly referred to what would ultimately become All My Friends Are Here (NuNoise Records) as his “life’s work.” Begun in 2005 and completed by his son and co-producer Joe after Mardin’s death, in June 2006 at age 74 of pancreatic cancer, it is an incomparably rich, atmospheric celebration of all aspects of the 12-time Grammy winner’s vibrant life and career. Indeed, it is not too early to cite All My Friends Are Here as a prime contender for album of the year honors.

Mardin wrote or co-wrote all but one of the album’s 13 tracks. Some, like the exquisitely romantic “Longing for You” (written when Mardin was 23 as a ode to his then fiancée Latife) date back decades. Others are brand new. To perform this heady potpourri of songs, father and son assembled more than a dozen of the artists whose careers Mardin launched and molded, including Bette Midler, Norah Jones, Raul Midón, Barry Gibb, Chaka Khan, Danny O’Keefe, the Average White Band, Daryl Hall and Felix Cavaliere.

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