Esmond Edwards: 1927-2007

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Esmond Edwards died on Jan. 20, 2007, in Santa Barbara, CA. Born in Nassau, Bahamas, on Oct. 29, 1927, Edwards immigrated to Harlem and pursued photography with New York, dancers, and the jazz scene as his subjects. He com-bined his musical ear with his passion for the graphic arts in the form of album cover art. Edwards' work has been in New York's Lincoln Center Jazz Archives, in galleries abroad, the “New York Times Magazine" and “Photography."

From a clerk at Prestige Records in 1957, Edwards climbed to producer, headed the Verve label for MGM in 1967, and was VP of A&R for Chess Records in 1970, one of the first African-American recording execs. He helped develop the sound and style of many musicians and was awarded several gold and platinum records with a Who's Who of jazz and blues luminaries (Miles Davis, George Benson, John Coltrane, Keith Jarrett, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Art Blakey, Kenny Burrell, Etta James, Ramsey Lewis, Coco Taylor, B.B. King, Coleman Haw kins). Edwards inducted talent to Prestige, Chess, MGM, Columbia, Polydor, and Impulse Records and received a Grammy nomination for the cast-album of Tony Award winning Broadway musical, “Your Arms Are Too Short to Box with God."

Edwards is survived by his wife, Dr. Yvonne Ferguson; son, Evan; stepdaughter, Nadra; sister, Lois, and two nieces. He will be remembered, as an artistic innovator in album cover and urbanscape photography, a prolific producer, composer, and arranger of jazz and blues, a trailblazer for African-American execs in the recording industry, and a loving husband and father.

A memorial service will be held on February 10, 2007, from 2-4 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Neighborhood Church Blvd., 301 N. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena, CA.

Donations may be made to The Prostate Cancer Foundation by calling 1-800- 757-CURE.

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