“When I saw how much alcohol Eddie Condon and his guys drank and abused their health,” Mr. Avakian told Down Beat magazine in 2000, “I was very alarmed and became convinced they couldn’t possibly live much longer. So I persuaded Jack Kapp at Decca to let me produce a series of reunions to document this music before it was too late.
“They were only in their mid-30s. But I was 20. What did I know about drinking?”
Columbia hired Mr. Avakian in 1940 to assemble and annotate a comprehensive jazz reissue series, something no record company had undertaken before. Working one day a week for $25, he compiled anthologies of the work of Armstrong, Ellington, Bessie Smith and others, establishing a template that the industry continued to follow into the CD era.
In 1946, after five years in the Army, Mr. Avakian became a full-time member of Columbia’s production staff.
While overseeing the company’s jazz operations, he wore many other hats as well. He was in charge of pop albums and served as a one-man international department, releasing Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose” and other important European records in the United States.
He also played a significant role in establishing the 33⅓-r.p.m. long-playing record as the industry standard, supervising production of the first pop LPs shortly after the format was introduced in 1948.
Mr. Avakian later worked briefly for the World Pacific label before joining the Warner Bros. movie studio’s newly formed record subsidiary, where he was in charge of artists and repertoire from 1959 to 1962.
With a mandate to get Warner Bros. Records on solid financial ground by delivering hits, he temporarily shifted his focus from jazz. He brought the Everly Brothers to the label and signed a young humorist named Bob Newhart, who had been working as an accountant in Chicago and moonlighting as a radio performer but had never performed for a live audience.
Mr. Newhart’s first album, “The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart,” became one of the best-selling comedy records of all time.
In 1962, Mr. Avakian joined RCA Victor Records, where he was in charge of pop production but also had the opportunity to renew his involvement in jazz, producing critically acclaimed albums by Sonny Rollins, Paul Desmond and others.
Tiring of the day-to-day grind of the record business, Mr. Avakian became a freelance manager and producer in the mid-’60s. His first client of note was Charles Lloyd, a saxophonist and flutist whose freewheeling style had attracted a young audience and who became one of the first jazz musicians to perform at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco and other rock venues.
The pianist in Mr. Lloyd’s quartet was Keith Jarrett, and Mr. Avakian worked with him as well, helping to lay the groundwork for his breakthrough as one of the most popular jazz musicians of the 1970s.
By the late ’90s Mr. Avakian had come full circle: He returned to Columbia Records to supervise a series of jazz reissues. This time the medium was CD rather than vinyl. And this time many of the recordings being reissued had originally been produced by Mr. Avakian himself.
Mr. Avakian was married for 68 years to the violinist Anahid Ajemian, a founding member of the Composers String Quartet. She died in 2016. Aram Avakian died at 60 in 1987.
In addition to Ms. Gregg, Mr. Avakian is survived by another daughter, Maro Avakian; a son, Greg; and two grandchildren.
In 2014, Mr. Avakian and Ms. Ajemian donated their archives, including unreleased recordings by Armstrong and Ellington, to the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.
Among the many honors Mr. Avakian received were a Trustees Award for lifetime achievement from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 2009 and a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters award for advocacy in 2010. Receiving the N.E.A. award, he said at the time, was “a culminating honor that confirms my long-held belief: Live long enough, stay out of jail, and you’ll never know what might happen.”
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