Music Industry Luminaries Offer Tribute to Friend, David Blumberg

Posted on April 17, 2011 by josh

April 17, 2011 marks the one year anniversary of David Blumberg’s passing.
The complete footage of the memorial celebration event’s video will be posted on August 1st anniversary of the event. In the manwhile we have posted a few excerpts of the celebration to share with you.
If you would like to post a message on this site, please feel free to do so.
Thank you for joining us here in celebration of David’s life.

Saxophonist Wayne Shorter and
composer/pianist Herbie Hancock
playing “Round Midnight”
John Clayton, bassist, composer,
conductor and ASMAC President
Stevie Wonder, singer-songwriter,
multi-instrumentalist and producer
David’s wife, Evelyne
Keb’ Mo’, singer, guitarist and songwriter Christopher Young,
film/Tv composer
Tariqh Akoni, guitarist
and songwriter
Jorge Calandrelli, composer,
arranger and orchestrator
Ellis Hall, vocalist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist
On Aug. 1, colleagues, family, students and friends of the late arranger, composer and music educator David Blumberg gathered to honor his life and work at the SGI Friendship Center in Los Angeles.

Remarkable spoken and musical tributes by friends such as Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Mike Lang, Ellis Hall, Keb’ Mo’ revealed that David Blumberg had touched many lives, even beyond the high level and broad range of his musical achievements. The depth of love and gratitude to this unique individual was utterly palpable over the three hours of the tribute emceed by his long time friend and copyist Ken Gruberman.

Ellis Hall’s powerful song “Victorious” opened the ceremony. Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter led the Buddhist chant and sacred ritual, Gongyo and Daimoku, which David had practiced many years as a Buddhist leader. David’s life was essentially about Spirit. His truest desire was to create music that would move people towards enlightenment.

Ernie Shelby, who collaborated with Quincy Jones when DB (David’s nickname) worked at Venture and Motown Records, said “David Blumberg’s secret to success as an arranger was a direct result of his spiritual nature. He never pressed to use your recording as an opportunity to showcase himself”…
Quincy himself, in a video-tribute, spoke of his respect for his “brother David” as a person and as a professional.

In describing his experience with David in the recording studio, Christopher Young noted, “when I think of him, I think of this guy who had some sort of magic about him… How do you maintain this great attitude?” Herbie said, “When David walked into a room, the room would change… A warmth would just exude from his presence that made everybody very comfortable…” As his daughter Elodie put it, “He was Home.”

Each speaker would shine a light on a part of David’s life that others didn’t know. Jorge Calandrelli shared how generous David was as a friend.

Tommy White, David’s music business consultant praised David’s high
integrity and loyalty.

Most people present didn’t realize the scope of David’s life and career. Even his family and closest friends weren’t aware of his numerous gold or platinum records such as Michael Jackson’s first hit, “Got to be There” or the worldwide disco hit, “I Will Survive.”

Jazz bassist Bunny Brunel, via Skype, acknowledged his friend David as “one of the greatest arrangers of his generation” and pointed out, “It’s amazing how people don’t realize how important an arrangement is when making a hit song.”

David’s daughter and granddaughter,
Elodie and Brylee Hara

Tommy White, music business

Mike Lang, pianist
and composer

Ernie Shelby, composer, songwriter and producer

Ken Gruberman, music copyist and score supervisor

Tariqh Akoni, David’s EIS student (Lyle “Spud” Murphy’s Equal Interval System of music composition) spoke on behalf of his fellow students worldwide: “I think I speak for all of us when I say, we are proud to have been arrows in the quiver of the great archer.”

John Clayton, President of ASMAC, acknowledged David’s major contributions to the organization and his role in creating the successful Master Class Series, which led to the creation of the David Blumberg Education Fund.

Other musical tributes included an exquisite composition by renowned pianist Mike Lang, while Kevin Moore dedicated his touching song “One Friend” to David. Herbie and Wayne’s extraordinary interpretation of “Round Midnight” was particularly special since it was during his collaboration with Herbie that David met his wife, Evelyne, in Paris. Sharing his experience winning an Oscar, Herbie stated, “None of that would have happened without David.” And although Stevie Wonder joked about David being called a “cool white boy,” he had the audience in tears with his incredibly moving song.

David Blumberg, my fother – my brather.

Posted on February 5, 2011 by lggoldman

The first time I met David was when he walked into an EIS class at Pasadena City College taught by fellow graduate student Michael Mitacek. That was the very first class ever taught on the subject at PCC by Mike.  First the creator of the Equal Interval System, Lyle (Spud) Murphy, came in to speak to the class,  Then each week, one graduate student would come in to tell of their personal experiences with the Equal Interval System. When David came in to talk I took a special interest in his story.

A couple years went by and I had just finished scoring a film for Adam Sandler (Happy Gilmore) for Universal with my partner Tom Adams and another composer, Mark Mothersbough.  I had decided that I wanted to advance my composing skills and decided to call David up and inquire into private studies with him. He agreed and in a very short period ( a few months) we  became such good friends. At this point he decided to give me a full paid lifetime tuition free scholarship for the course and in turn I took an informal assistantship role.

I continued studying while also assisting him on his many projects. He took an interest in my career, recommending me for many music jobs with his many contacts. He took an interest in my physical well being, as well. He got me going to Tai Chi with his (our) master, James Wing Woo. He even took an interest in my spiritual well being and engaged me in many conversations on the subject.  One of many examples being one time he and his charming wife, Evelyne,  taking me to be hugged by a Saint (Amma).

I used to kid him that I didn’t know if I should call him my fother or my brather..since he contained the unique qualities of both types of figures.

I spent many days/nights at his Brentwood family home with  studying music, working on projects, rebuilding his studio, hanging out with his mom (she did the artwork on my Scoring Demo CD), engineering his vocal demos with such artists as Ellis Hall and Benard Ighner, having breakfast, lunch or dinner or all three with the family.  I remember going to music industry events held by organizations such as ASMAC (American Society of Arrangers and Composers) or NARAS (National Assoc. of Recording Arts and Sciences), attending NAMM Shows (National Assoc. of Musical Merchandisers) and countless other similar music related activities with him and several of his network of music buddies.  Eventually he sponsored me to become a Board Member of ASMAC (which I still hold and am actively involved with on a daily basis) and a member of NARAS.

We spoke on the phone quite frequently often, several times a day. Emails back and forth. Speaking of which he used to send me (and everyone he was buddies with) tons of jokes. He loved doing that. He loved telling them too. He always had a ton to draw from.  I also remember that at the end of each ASMAC Board of Directors meeting he would ask the wonderful Van Alexander to tell the Board a joke prior to his departing the meetings near the end to go home and be with his lovely wife. Van always accepted David’s setup and told a great joke. David loved doing the setup. In fact, he loved doing the setup – in general – for everyone when he was introducing them to someone they didn’t know. He always promoted his friends and students to those he introduced them to. David also made it his responsibility to introduce his students to other folks or other students to help them network. He never kept his cards close to his chest with work.

Several years ago, along with David bringing me onto the Board at ASMAC , he also supported my newly found interest in directing, shooting and producing videos/dvds and related projects. I had been doing that for my performing groups and David wanted me to develop that skill and include a larger variety of subjects. As a result I became the ASMAC go-to video production guy, shooting and producing DVDs of all their events. From that humble beginning, I started recording larger orchestras and continue along that path expanding those interests/skills to this day.  Now a professional in that field, all due to David’s encouragement.

He had a knack for seeing into people and finding their possibilities and encouraging them to develop those possibilities. Not something a lot of people tend to take the time to bother with. He loved doing that.

David embodied the concept of love thy neighbor as thy loved one self. He never strayed from that ideal for as long as I knew him. I know all his many friends appreciated him, as they all speak so highly of him all the time.

I will miss him dearly and remember him fondly as a great man and a wonderful musician.

But most of all I will always remember him as my best friend, my brather and my fother.

Larry G. Goldman

Friend and Teacher

Posted on December 31, 2010 by gtrplyr013

I had the pleasure of knowing David for several years. I used to look forward to our lessons so so much. They were more spiritual than music sometimes (I think that depended on his mood) and there were times when we would have a lesson and then we would pour a drink (Me in Seattle and he in LA) and drink over Skype… it was hilariously funny to my wife. She would tell our friends that Tom is drinking with his computer… I miss him terribly as he was such a force in my life always encouraging me to look deep into the music. Because of David and EIS I have a more rich and fuller musical life and I have new things and ideas that I get to work on. I am eternally grateful.

My Friend and Teacher

Posted on December 19, 2010 by Thomas Henderson

David I just found out…man…yea   you were the best teacher I ever had. You taught me  so much and how to study.

If I could only tell you how I feel…man…Iam going to miss you David. David this is Tommy Henderson

Much love for you and your family

David Blumberg

Posted on August 22, 2010 by abbytravis

David was my cousin. I met him at a Seder at our mutual cousin, Joan Travis’ house. I asked him to do a couple of string arrangements for my 2nd CD without really knowing what his back ground was. (I was, honestly, hoping for a family discount:) David not only did two beautiful arrangements for me; he put together the harp and string quartet and conducted the players. He treated me with as much respect as he would any one that was paying him triple scale or had a real budget. (I mean we recorded the strings in my home studio).

David made me feel like he was my fan and all ways offered support and encouragement. I studied the equal interval system with him for half a year. He was totally patient with my lack of patience. Plus the laughter!!! Even though I didn’t get very far in the course, I really feel that it helped my back up vocal arrangements:)

I’m proud and lucky to have known such a genuine loving soul. His service was very inspiring. I left wanting to be a better person. Much love to Evelyne and Elodie. I have a cactus from the house in Malibu that I treasure in my yard.

Abby Travis

PS- If anyone at this forum would like to hear the work David did for me I’d be happy to send them an MP3 or point you to the songs on Itunes:)

Gerhard Joost Chief Engineer. Grooveworx

Posted on August 2, 2010 by gerhard

Rarely are we gifted with the grace of a being with such understanding of the human element. David understood and took responsibility for more than just work, it was his connection to understanding and communicating the soul of life. I am a far better person by knowing David and being bless with his life energy. I believe too that his family was first and foremost in this understanding which makes me grateful to the entire Blumburg family.
Thank you for such a beautiful memorial to David’s life. His purpose in life lives in us forever.

Dear David

Posted on July 29, 2010 by Stefan Podell

You were much more than a teacher to me. You were mentor and friend. You inspired at least as much as you taught. I will miss you forever.

Loud and Clear

Posted on July 20, 2010 by Ernie Shelby

Somehow it seems poetic that David Blumberg’s initials were DB – the acronym for decibels – because the genius of his arrangements was truly loud and clear. I had the pleasure of writing, working and being friends with David since 1968. We enjoyed more hours in the studio together than most friends have in casual friendship. It’s truly a blessing to be able to spend so much time doing something you love alongside someone you have so much feeling and respect for. As much as I know I’ll miss him, it’s very difficult to feel bad about a life so well lived.


Posted on July 20, 2010 by Stefan Podell

Students and friends of David posted these comments in a thread at VI Control.

He provided one of the best things in my life. Thank you very much David!!!

— Leandro Gardini

David was an exceptional person. He was obviously a brilliant musician, but his most lasting impact on me, I hope, will be his warmth, spirit, kindness, and thoughtfulness — he had the heart of a great teacher and friend. I assure anybody reading this, it would be hard to overstate.

— Brian McBrearty

David often referred to Spud as “The Great One” but David was just as great in his own way. David’s Knowledge and approach, though different than Spud’s, was every bit as confident, and his own take on the course just as useful and just as original in many ways. There are many now who say they wished they had studied with Spud but those who studied with David were just as lucky. Another master is gone.

— Craig Sharmat

I studied almost two and a half years with him. He was my teacher and my friend, can’t believe he is gone !!! It’s much more than sad…

— Blackster

My heart sank when I saw the title of this thread. I knew he had been ill last year but I thought he had gotten better. I had always intended to start some advanced study with him. I am honored to have gotten him to orchestrate a piece of mine for orchestral performance. I wrote a tribute to him and posted it on this board praising his work. He was indeed a master. He very recently told me he thought he was now doing his best work. RIP David – you were one of the good ones.

— bigdog

Like Spud, he filled his students with confidence. He helped me to find out who I am. He helped me pursue my dream. He was a always very busy but always made time. He will be missed.

— Ron James

I’m crushed. He gave so much to my life and my music. A truly special, generous man. I love you David.

— Richard Ford

He was the Maestro and he had a very high level of spirituality, I had the chance to go through Book XI during these 3 fabulous years with David, he was more than our teacher, he was our friend. David gave me confidence in my writting and I own him my today career in my country. David, you gave me so much, I will never forget you!

— Marco Berco