Arif Mardin, 74, a music producer who worked with hundreds of artists -- from Aretha Franklin to the Bee Gees -- and guided Norah Jones's best-selling album "Come Away With Me," for which he won four of his 11 Grammy Awards, died June 25 in New York. He had pancreatic cancer.
Mr. Mardin, who spent nearly 40 years at Atlantic Records, was one of the most prolific and revered music producers of his time. Unlike Phil Spector, with his highly orchestrated "Wall of Sound" style, Mr. Mardin never developed a signature approach to his music, nor did that bother him. This openness to different tastes accounted for his long and varied career. "I didn't want to bring the artists into a preset situation," he said.
Working in the late 1960s with engineer Tom Dowd and producer Jerry Wexler, Mr. Mardin was partly responsible for Franklin's early soul masterworks "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You" (which featured the song "Respect") and "Lady Soul."
Mr. Mardin went on to help country singer Willie Nelson on an early crossover recording, "Shotgun Willie" (1973), and reinvigorated the career of the Bee Gees with the album "Main Course" (1975). He was credited with steering the Bee Gees in a disco direction and encouraged them to use a synthesizer. He also made a crucial suggestion to singer Barry Gibb.
"During the recording of the album, I asked Barry to take his vocal up one octave," Mr. Mardin once said. "The poor man said, 'If I take it up one octave, I'm going to shout, and it's going to be terrible.' He softened up a little bit, and that's how their falsetto was born."
Mr. Mardin produced hits for Carly Simon ("You Belong to Me") and Chaka Khan ("I Feel for You"). There were dozens of further collaborations in the 1980s, but he was perhaps most remembered for working with Phil Collins on the albums "Face Value" and "No Jacket Required."
He also brought Bette Midler a resurgence in popularity with "Wind Beneath My Wings" in 1989 before working with a series of pop divas over the next decade, including Barbra Streisand on her "Higher Ground" album.
In recent years, he produced original cast recordings of Broadway musicals, including "Rent" and "Smokey Joe's Cafe," before capping his career with Jones's "Come Away With Me" (2003).
Mr. Mardin was born March 15, 1932, in Istanbul to a politically connected family. His father was a partner in a gas station chain and hoped that his son would enter the business. To please his father, he completed degrees in commerce and economics at Istanbul University, but music became a larger influence in his life.
He enjoyed the American big-band and bebop jazz sounds and, as a young man in Istanbul, spent time in a rehearsal big band with professionals and businessmen he called "very enthusiastic amateur musicians."
"They got together once a week to play the stock arrangements for big-band hits that you could buy in the marketplace," he told an interviewer. "I was the piano player, and I wrote some arrangements. I'd ask the bandleader, 'Can I write three trumpets with these voicings?' And he'd say, 'No, that's too high.' And I would write ridiculous lines for the saxophone player and he'd say, 'I can't play this. It doesn't exist on the instrument!' That's how I learned, until I went to Berklee."
He won a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston through the encouragement of musical arranger Quincy Jones. The two had met when Jones was on a State Department-sponsored jazz tour that swung through Turkey.
After graduating from Berklee in 1961, Mr. Mardin was invited to join Atlantic Records by Nesuhi Ertegun, one of the two Turkish brothers who led the company. He had met Ertegun at the Newport Jazz Festival.
At Atlantic, he produced several jazz recordings before distinguishing himself with the Young Rascals hit "Good Lovin,' " which became a top hit of 1966. "I was in shock," Mr. Mardin said. "When my first pop record went to No. 1, jazz went to the back burner, though I did get to work with Herbie Mann, Max Roach and Art Farmer."
For much of the 1960s, he described himself as a "helper" to producer Jerry Wexler, chiefly focusing on writing arrangements. After working with Dusty Springfield on the hit "Dusty in Memphis" (1969), Mr. Mardin was promoted to vice president of the record company.
During the next few years, he also worked with singer/songwriter Laura Nyro, rhythm-and-blues balladeer Brook Benton, folk musician John Prine (on his self-titled debut album), soul singer/songwriter Donny Hathaway and the Average White Band, best known for the R&B dance song "Pick Up the Pieces."
He also composed and arranged the music for an audio recording of Khalil Gibran's "The Prophet," featuring narration by the actor Richard Harris.
After retiring from Atlantic in 2001, he worked for subsidiaries of EMI records, including Blue Note. In later years, he also was musical supervisor on television specials, including "Cinderella" with the singer Brandy and such films as the Frankie Lymon biography "Why Do Fools Fall in Love."
Mr. Mardin was inducted into the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences' Hall of Fame in 1990. His final Grammy Award was for producing singer Dianne Reeves's jazz album "A Little Moonlight" (2003).
"The idea with pop music is for it to reach as many people as possible," Mr. Mardin once said, "and I've always taken joy in the craft of that and in giving people something they enjoy, or something that will make their life a little easier."
Survivors include his wife, Turkish novelist Latife Hanim Mardin, and two children.