What Arif Mardin Taught Me About Music Production

Jack Joseph Puig

Producer, Mixer, Engineer

U2, Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas, John Mayer

Grammy®-winning producer/engineer Jack Joseph Puig commemorates his late great mentor, the Atlantic Records luminary who made classic songs with Aretha Franklin, the Bee Gees and many more.

Arif Mardin

Ten years ago, the music world lost one of its greatest behind-the-scenes masterminds. Arif Mardin (1932–2006) was a producer and arranger who shaped classic songs for dozens of artists, from Aretha Franklin and Roberta Flack to the Bee Gees and Norah Jones. He was a key figure in the golden age of Atlantic Records, where, along with producers Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd, he revolutionized soul music and invented the “Atlantic Sound.” In a career spanning over four decades, he collected over 40 gold and platinum albums and won twelve Grammy® Awards. To commemorate his legacy we asked Jack joseph Puig, the iconic producer and engineer whom Mardin mentored early in his career, to share with us some of his loving recollections.

“The true and great record producer is the rarest breed,” says Jack. “It's a selfless job. You need to know a little about all of the process and hopefully be an expert in a few of the areas. This is who Arif Mardin was: a rare, exceptional, unrepeatable talent.

“One day we were working on a Bette Midler record, 'Wind Beneath My Wings' and I always had a tough time making the record feel good. Arif was writing a string chart, so I thought he wasn’t listening to me struggle on the mix. I was wrong! He turned to me and said, “The record needs a 1K instrument.” that was when I understood that the voicing of the chords he was writing on the string chart was not any different from the voicing I was doing with my EQ.

“Arif taught me how to be a gentleman and how to make the artist feel like #1, giving them the power and confidence to create. He was an inspiration in that he knew his craft in such a way that made all of us want to step up to being the greatest at our contribution to the record-making industry.”

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