Jean-Philippe Allard dead: Influential French jazz producer and advocate dies aged 67 after cancer battle

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Prominent French record executive and producer Jean-Philippe Allard has died

Jean-Philippe Allard, a prominent French record executive and producer, known for revitalising the careers of overlooked jazz legends and fiercely advocating for musicians, has died at the age of 67. According to Brian Bacchus, a close friend and frequent collaborator, Allard succumbed to cancer after a long period of remission on May 17 in Paris.

Artists such as Abbey Lincoln, Juliette Gréco, and Kenny Barron have praised Allard as the most musician-friendly producer they had ever worked with, according to the New York Times. Allard mentioned in an interview with music journalist Willard Jenkins, describing himself as a professional listener, attentive before, during, and after the recording sessions. He said: “Regarding my work, I would always consider it as co-producing with the artist.”

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Allard began his career in the late 1980s when he was invited to start a jazz division at PolyGram France. Despite initially being tasked with promoting existing talent, Allard's passion led him to sign struggling US jazz artists who were having difficulty securing contracts back home. This initiative led to partnerships with producers from the US and Japan, enabling him to secure significant budgets and attract top jazz talent globally.

One notable collaboration was a $250,000 multi-album deal with Japanese producer Kiyoshi Koyama and saxophonist Stan Getz, an unprecedented sum for jazz musicians at the time. This success paved the way for further ambitious projects with artists like Abbey Lincoln, Randy Weston, and Charlie Haden.

Jean-Philippe Allard, a prominent French record executive and producer, known for revitalising the careers of overlooked jazz legends and fiercely advocating for musicians, died at the age of 67Jean-Philippe Allard, a prominent French record executive and producer, known for revitalising the careers of overlooked jazz legends and fiercely advocating for musicians, died at the age of 67
Jean-Philippe Allard, a prominent French record executive and producer, known for revitalising the careers of overlooked jazz legends and fiercely advocating for musicians, died at the age of 67 | Getty Images

Allard also convinced Gitanes, a French cigarette company, to sponsor a series of albums for Verve, resulting in well-funded sessions for Lincoln and Shirley Horn, which are now considered classics.

Lincoln, who had faded from the spotlight by the late '80s, credited Allard with reviving her career and encouraging her to embrace her identity as a composer. She once said: “He has no tolerance for cliché — he likes original.” Allard’s dedication extended beyond professional relationships, fostering lifelong bonds with the artists he supported.

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In recognition of his contributions, Allard received a lifetime achievement award at the 2012 Victoires du Jazz and the Bruce Lundvall Prize at the 2014 Montreal International Jazz Festival. Ornette Coleman even composed a song in his honor, “Monsieur Allard,” for the 1996 album “Sound Museum: Three Women.”

Born on April 8, 1957, in Saint-Mandé, France, Allard grew up in the northern suburbs of Paris. His father, Jean, was a sales manager, and his mother, Marie-Thérèse, was a high school principal. Throughout his career, Allard maintained a deep commitment to his artists, as reflected in the words of vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater: “His ear was always open to the artist, and he was always concerned about what was best for the artist.”

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