“Ever since I was a kid, I always had in mind to come to this country,” says Grammy Award-nominated record producer Didier C. Deutsch. “My initial goal was to become a movie director. Instead, I became a record producer and musicologist. Makes sense: music was always an integral part of my life.”
Deutsch, who cites former Paris-based American deejay Sim Copans as being a major influence on his musical development, was nominated for a Grammy in 1995 for his production of the 12-CD “Frank Sinatra: The Columbia Years (1943–1952) – The Complete Recordings,” the most ambitious project ever initiated by Columbia Records at the time. He was nominated for another Grammy in 2001 for the Columbia/Legacy 26-CD set, “Soundtrack For A Century.” Since 1986, when he joined Legacy Records, Deutsch has produced more than 600 titles in fields as varied as pop, jazz, big bands, classical, soundtracks and Broadway shows.
Born in Arcachon, France in 1937, Deutsch lived the end of the war years in hiding, after narrowly escaping the Nazi authorities. After the war, while pursuing his studies, he began writing articles about American music for a number of French publications, and lectured at the United States Information Services in his hometown of Bordeaux and at the American Cultural Center in Paris.
Shortly after his arrival in New York in 1962, he turned to writing professionally for a wide range of magazines and newspapers, including After Dark, Essence and The New York Times, with a special emphasis on the theater, movies, and music.
In 1973, following some years in public relations in the private sector, Deutsch became publicity director at CTI Records, the jazz label created by producer Creed Taylor, and worked with artists like George Benson, Bob James, Grover Washington, Jr., Freddie Hubbard, Paul Desmond, and Chet Baker, among many others.
In a career that has since entirely focused on the music side of the business, Deutsch held various publicity and managerial positions at Tappan Zee, RCA, WEA International, and Atlantic. While at that label, in 1991, he produced the 4-CD boxed set “MJQ 40,” marking the Modern Jazz Quartet’s 40 years in the music business.
Simultaneously, he began working for Legacy, the reissue label controlled by Columbia Records, now Sony Music. In addition to the Frank Sinatra box set, he produced the 4-CD “Tony Bennett: 40 Years Of Artistry,” marking the singer’s 40 years in the industry (later updated to 5 CDs to mark Bennett’s 50th anniversary as a recording artist); another 4-CD set, “Johnny Mathis: Portrait Of The Artist”; a 5-CD box set celebrating “Broadway: The American Musical,” in conjunction with the PBS special of the same name shown in 2004; and “Sondheim: The Story So Far…,” a career retrospective of the celebrated Broadway composer, which was released in 2008.
Over the years, he has also produced recordings by the many pop artists signed to both Columbia and Epic (Doris Day, Jerry Vale, Rosemary Clooney, Harry James, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, etc.). On many of those, he wrote the liner notes that helped put these recordings into their proper historical perspective.
Among his many other achievements, Deutsch lists “Frank Sinatra In Hollywood,” a 6-CD set covering the singer’s soundtrack performances, and a 2-CD reissue of the soundtrack of “How The West Was Won,” with music by Alfred Newman, both for Rhino; “The Best Of Broadway,” a multi-volume series surveying the songs written for the stage and screen, for Time-Life; “The Great American Composers,” a 28-volume collection of the classic tunes written by the best Tin Pan Alley songwriters – Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Johnny Mercer, and the Gershwins, among many others, representing more than 800 selections, for Columbia House; and the reissue of many great original cast albums, in the “Columbia Broadway Masterworks” series, for both Legacy and Sony Classical.
In addition to his activities as a record producer, Deutsch continues to be a presence on Broadway, each season reviewing the new musical productions for the German publication “Musicals” and for the French-language “Opérette/Théâtre Musical.” A recognized theater critic, he has been covering the Broadway musical scene for more than 45 years.