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Jazz Arrangers

The consummate musician / composer who provides the receptive canvas on which the jazz Improviser can paint his or her Harmonic interpretations.


Edward Ernest Sauter of Sauter Finegan Orchestra (born Dec 2nd 1914 in Brooklyn; died April 21 1981in NYC was a jazz arranger most associated with the swing era.
He originally played trumpet and drums before becoming an arranger. He studied at Columbia Universityand the Juilliard School. His first success as an arranger was with Red Norvo's orchestra. He also arranged music for Benny Goodman, including some of his most difficult pieces. From 1952 to 1958 Sauter was co-leader of the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra. In 1961 he worked with Stan Getz on the album Focus.

He also did composition for several films including 1965's Mickey One where he worked with Getz again. He also did television work including the third season theme to Rod Serling's Night Gallery. In 2003 he was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame


Ernest Brooks Wilkins Jr. (bornJuly 20, 1922 in St Loius Missour died june 5, 1999 in Copenhagen) was a jazz arranger and writer who also played tenor sax. He might be best known for his work with Count Basie. He also wrote for Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, and Dizzy Gillespie. In addition to that he was musical director for albums by Cannonball Adderley, Dinah Washington, Oscar Peterson, and Buddy Rich.[1]

In his early career he had played in a military band and was then in Earl Hines's last big band. In 1951 he began working with Basie he wrote songs like Every Day I Have The Blues. After 1955 he went free-lance as a jazz arranger and writer of songs as he was much in demand at that time. His success declined in the 1960's but revived after work with Clark Terry. This led to his touring Europe and eventually settling in Denmark, where he would live for the rest of his life.  In Denmark he formed the "Almost Big Band" so he could write for a band of his own formation. The idea was partly inspired by his wife Jenny. Denmark at that time had several promising jazz musicians, it also had noted American ex-patriate's like Kenny Drew and Ed Thigpen who joined the band. The band released four albums, but after 1991 he became too ill to do much with it. Ernie Wilkins died on June 5, 1999 of a stroke.

Quincy Delightt Jones Jr. (born Mar 14 1933 ) is an American Music Impresario, Conductor, record producer, musical arranger, film composer and trumpeter.  

During 50 years in the entertainment industry Jones' work has earned him more than 70 Grammy Award nominations, more than 25 Grammy Awards, and a Grammy Legends Award in 1991. He is best known as the producer of two of the top-selling records of all time: the album Thriller, by Michael Jackson, which sold 50 million copies worldwide, and the charity song We are the World.

In 1968, Jones and his songwriting partner Bob Russell became the first Arfican Americans   to be nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Original Song category. That same year, he became the first African-American to be nominated twice within the same year when he was nominated for Best Original Score for his work on the music of In Cold Blood. Jones was also the first (and so far, the only) African-American to be nominated as a producer in the category of Best Picture (in 1986, for The Color Purple). He was also the first African-American to win the Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, in 1995. He is tied with sound designer Willie D. Burton as the most Oscar-nominated African-American, each of them having seven nominations


Johnny Mandel (born 23rd Nov 1925  in New York) is an American composer and arranger of popular songs, film music and Jazz.  Among the musicians he has worked with are Count Basie (for whom he arranged in the 1950s), Frank Sinatra (for whom he arranged Ring a Ding Ding, 1960) and Shirley Horn.  In 1966 he and Paul Francis Webster won the Grammy Award for Son of the Year  for The Shadow of Your Smile (Love Theme from The Sandpiper), which has been performed by hundreds of artists including Tony Bennett, for whom it became a recognition song.  He won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal  in 1992 for Natalie Cole and Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable" and again in 1993 for Shirley Horn's "Here's to Life".  At the age of 80, he contributed importantly on Tony Bennett's Grammy-awarded 2004 The Art of Romance as the arranger and conducting the orchestra. Both had collaborated before on Bennett's classic Movie Song Album in 1966, for which Mandel arranged and conducted his own two standard film songs and was the album's musical director.  Among Mandel's most famous compositions are "Suicide Is Painless" (theme from the movie and TV series MASH, "Close Enough for Love", "Emily" and "A Time for Love". He has written a great many film scores, perhaps most notably The Sandpiper.  Mandel and Paul Francis Webster collaborated on the Oscar winning song "The Shadow of Your Smile" from the film The Sandpiper in 1965


Buddy Bregman (born 9th July 1930) is an American musical arranger, record producer and composer.  He has worked with many of the greatest musical artists of 20th Century popular music including; Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, and Frank Sinatra  Born in Chicago, he studied at UCLA and during his sophomore year, wrote 'I Need Your Lovin' with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller which subsequently became his first hit record.

As an arranger, conductor and the A&R head of Norman Granz's newly established Verve Records, he also scored and orchestrated many major motion pictures including; 'The Pajama Game, Crime in the Streets, Secret of the Purple Reef and several others.  1956 saw Bregman orchestrate and arrange three albums which subsequently went platinum, and which still remain today one of his greatest achievements.  Two of the albums represented the commencement of Ella Fitzgerald's epic 'Songbooks' project.

Bregman's intelligent and sensitive arrangements for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook, and Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers & Hart Songbook would establish Fitzgerald as an international star, and secure her legacy as one of the supreme interpreters of the Great American Songbook. Bregman also arranged several of Fitzgerald's early Verve singles.  Bing Crosby's 1956 album Bing Sings Whilst Bregman Swings which Bregman also arranged and conducted also later went platinum.

After his tenure at Verve, Bregman became a television producer and director, working with great success for the BBC and also as Head of Entertainment for ITV.  Bregman then wrote Jump Jim Crow, a musical for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and later went into London-based independent TV and film production, and subsequently produced and directed a feature film starring Olivia Newton-John.  Upon returning to the United States, Bregman worked as a television producer and director.


Ralph Burns (June 29, 1922 in Newton, Massachusetts November 21, 2001 in Los Angeles), California) was a songwriter, bandleader, composer, conductor, arranger and pianist. He was one of the few celebrities to ever win all three major awards that are considered for acting: Oscar, Emmy and a Tony.

Ralph Burns began playing the piano as a child. In 1938, he attended the New England Conservatory of Music. He admitted that he learned the most about jazz by transcribing the works of Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. While a student, Burns lived in Frances Wayne’s home. Wayne was already a well know big band singer and her brother Nick Jerret was a bandleader who began working with Burns. He found himself in the company of such famous performers as Nat King Cole and Art Tatum.

After Burns moved to New York in the early 1940’s, he met Charlie Barnet and the two began working together. In 1944, he joined the Woody Herman band with members Neal Hefti, Bill Harris, Flip Phillips, Cubby Jackson and Dave Tough. Together, the group developed one of the most powerful and distinctive sound. For 15 years, Burns wrote or arranged many of the bands major hits including Bijou, Northwest Passage and Apple Honey, and on the longer work Lady McGowan’s Dream and the three-part Summer Sequence.

Burns worked with numerous other musicians. Stan Getz was featured as a tenor saxophone soloist in Early Autumn, a huge hit for the band and the launching platform for Getz’s solo career. Russian Igor Stravinsky composed Ebony Concerto exclusively for the Herman band to record. Burns also worked in a small band with soloists including Bill Harris and Charlie Ventura.

The success of the Herman band provided Burns the ability to record under his own name in the 1950’s. He collaborated with Billy Strayhorn, Lee Konitz and Ben Webster to create both jazz and classical recordings. He wrote compositions for Tony Bennett and Johnny Mathis and later Aretha Franklin and Natalie Cole. Burns was responsible for the arrangement and introduction of a string orchestra on two of Ray Charles’s biggest hits, Come Rain or Come Shine and Georgia on My Mind.

In the 1960’s, Burns was freed from touring as a band pianist, and began composing for Broadway including the major show Chicago, Funny Girl, No, No Nanette, and Sweet Charity. In 1971, Burns first film score was for Woody Allen’s Bananas. Burns worked with film-director Bob Fosse and in 1972 won Academy Award for Cabaret. Fosse again employed Burns to create the soundtrack for [[All That Jazz]] for which he also won an Academy Award in 1979. He later created the soundtracks for Lenny and [[Urban Cowboy]] and Martin Scorsese’s jazz-themed New York, New York. In 1982, Burns won an Academy Award for his work in Annie. Baryshnikov on Broadway in 1980 earned Burns an Emmy Award for his work. Burns won Tony Awards in 1999 for the Broadway musical Fosse and posthumously in 2002 for Thoroughly Modern Millie. In the 1990’s, Burns arranged music for Mel Tormé, John Pizzarelli and Michael Feinstein.

In 2001, Ralph Burns died from complications of a recent stroke and pneumonia. He was survived by one sister, Nancy Lane (Burns), and three brothers, Leo, Joe, and Gale.

Ralph Burns was inducted into the New England Jazz Hall of Fame in 2004.

Bennett Lester Carter (August 8, 1907July 12, 2003) was an American jazz alto saxophonist, trumpeter, composer, arranger, and bandleader. He was a major figure in jazz from the 1930s to the 1990s, and was recognised as such by other jazz musicians who called him King. Carter was admired for his ability to write saxophone solis, which are sections of music that the entire section plays as one unit in the manner of a solo. He was a Kennedy Center honoree in 1996.

As a youth, Carter lived in Harlem around the corner from Bubber Miley who was Duke Ellington's star trumpeter. Carter was inspired by Miley and bought a trumpet, but when he found he couldn't play like Miley he traded the trumpet in for a saxophone.

Carter began playing professionally at 15. He first recorded in 1928 and formed his first big band the following year. He played with Fletcher Henderson in 1930 and 1931, then briefly led McKinney's Cotton Pickers before returning to lead his own band in 1932. The few recordings his band made between 1933 and 1934 are considered by most jazz scholars to be milestones in early swing arranging. They were sophisticated and very complex arrangements, and a number of them became swing standards which were performed by other bands ("Blue Lou" is a great example of this). He also arranged for Henderson and Duke Ellington during these years and wrote two hits, "Blues in My Heart" and "When Lights are Low." By the early 1930s he and Johnny Hodges were considered the leading alto players of the day. Carter also quickly became a leading trumpet soloist, having rediscovered the instrument. He recorded extensively on trumpet in the 1930s. Also, in 1933, Carter took part in an amazing series of sessions that featured the British band leader Spike Hughes, who came to New York specifically to organize a series of recordings featuring the best Black musicians available. These 14 sides were only issued in England at the time, though they are available on CD and are worthwhile looking for. (The musicians were mainly made up from member of Carter's band and from Luis Russell's.)

In 1935 he moved to Europe, where he became staff arranger for the British Broadcasting Corporation dance orchestra and made several records. He returned to the United States in 1938 and led a big band and sextet before moving to Los Angeles in 1943 to write for movie studios.

His biggest hit was "Cow Cow Boogie", a song he co-wrote with Don Raye and Gene DePaul, which was a hit for Ella Mae Morse in 1942.

In the 1940s and 1950s, Carter was one of the first black men to compose music for films. He was an inspiration and a mentor for Quincy Jones when Jones began writing for television and films in the 1960s. Also in the 1940s, Carter's successful legal battles in order to obtain housing in then-exclusive neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area made him a pioneer in an entirely different area.

Trumpeter Miles Davis made some of his first recordings with Carter, and considered him a close friend and mentor.

He also appears uncredited in the 1952 film, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, as a sax player.

Carter was a member of the music advisory panel of the National Endowment for the Arts. He was also a member of the Black Film Makers' Hall of Fame and in 1980 received the Golden Score award of the American Society of Music Arrangers. Carter was also a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1996 and received honorary doctorates from Princeton, Harvard, Rutgers, and the New England Conservatory.

In 1987, Carter was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Carter continued writing and performing into his 90s. He arranged for Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, and Sarah Vaughan, among many others.

He died, aged 95, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles of what is thought to have been bronchitis.

Al Cohn (November 24, 1925February 15, 1988) was an American jazz saxophonist and jazz arranger/composer.

Cohn was initially known for playing in Woody Herman's Second Herd as one of the Four Brothers, along with Zoot Sims, Stan Getz, and Serge Chaloff. Unlike his the better known tenors Sims and Getz, Cohn contributed arrangements to the Herman band. After leaving the Herman group Cohn went on to play with a variety of other musicians but his most well known association was with Zoot Sims whom he co-led a quintet starting in 1956. They continued to play together sporadically until the death of Sims. The high point of their recorded output can be found on "You 'n' Me" which was released on Mercury Records in 1960.

In addition to his work as a jazz tenor saxophonist, Al Cohn wrote arrangements for the Broadway productions of "Raisin" and "Sophisticated Ladies".

His son Joe Cohn is a talented guitarist.

Cohn died in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.


Robert Joseph Farnon (July 24, 1917 April 22, 2005) was a Canadian-born composer, conductor, musical arranger and trumpet player.

Born in Toronto, Ontario, he was commissioned as a Canadian Army captain and became the conductor/arranger of the Canadian Band of the Allied Expeditionary Force sent overseas during World War II, which was the Canadian equivalent of the American Band of the AEF led by Major Glenn Miller.

At the end of the war, Farnon decided to make England his home, and he later moved to Guernsey in the Channel Islands with his wife and children.

He was considered by his peers as the finest arranger in the world, and his talents influenced many composer-arrangers including Quincy Jones, all of whom acknowledge his contributions to their work. Conductor Andre Previn called him "the greatest writer for strings in the world."

Robert Farnon died at the age of eighty-seven at a hospice near his home of forty years in Guernsey.

He was greatly admired by Alan Seager, who has recently celebrated his 74th birthday. At his 74th birthday party, Alan Seager's good friend, Dennis Rhodes, brought an amusing CD of popular songs from the 1940s but, alas, none featured Robert Farnon.

Robert Farnon is probably best known for two famous pieces of light music, Jumping Bean and Portrait of a Flirt, both which were originally released as A and B sides on the same 78. Also famous are his Westminster Waltz and A Star is Born.

Farnon also wrote the music for more than forty motion pictures including Maytime in Mayfair (1949) and Captain Horatio Hornblower RN (1951) and for a number of television series and miniseries including The Prisoner and A Man Called Intrepid.

He won four Ivor Novello Awards including one for "Outstanding Services to British Music" in 1991 and in 1996 he won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement for "Lament" performed by J. J. Johnson & his Robert Farnon Orchestra.

The last piece he composed was titled "The Gaels: An American Wind Symphony", as a commission to the Roxbury High School band in honor of the school's mascot, the gael. The piece made its world debut in May, 2006. It was performed by the Roxbury High School Honors Wind Symphony under the direction of Dr. Stanley Saunders, a close friend of Farnon.


Henry Mancini (April 16, 1924 June 14, 1994), was an Academy Award winning American composer, conductor and arranger. He is remembered particularly for being a composer of film and television scores. Mancini also won a record number of Grammy awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995.

Henry was born Enrico Nicola Mancini in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up in the Pittsburgh suburb of West Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. His parents came from the Abruzzo region of Italy. Henry´s father, Quinto, was a steel worker who made his only child begin flute lessons at the age of 8. When Henry was 12 he began piano lessons. Quinto and Henry played flute together in the Aliquippa Italian immigrant band, "Sons of Italy". After high school Henry attended the renowned Juilliard School of Music in New York. After roughly one year his studies were interrupted when he was drafted into the army in 1943. In 1945 he participated in the liberation of a South German concentration camp, witnessing all the horrors of Nazi inhumanity. Upon discharge, Mancini entered the music industry and became a pianist and arranger for the newly formed Glenn Miller band led by Tex Beneke. His greatest musical passions have been for swing and jazz. After WW II Mancini broadened his composition, counterpoint, harmony and orchestration skills during studies with two acclaimed "serious" concert hall composers, Ernst Krenek and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

In 1952 Mancini joined the Universal-International Studios' music department. During the next six years he contributed to over 100 films, most notably "The Creature from the Black Lagoon", "It Came from Outer Space", "Tarantula", "This Island Earth", “The Glenn Miller Story” (for which he received his first Academy Award nomination), “The Benny Goodman Story” and Orson Welles´ “Touch of Evil”. Mancini left Universal-International to work as an independent composer/arranger in 1958. Soon after, he scored the television series “Peter Gunn” for writer/producer Blake Edwards, the genesis of a relationship which lasted over 35 years and produced nearly 30 films. Together with Alex North, Elmer Bernstein, Leith Stevens and Johnny Mandel, Henry Mancini was one of the pioneers who introduced jazz music into the late romantic orchestral film and TV scores prevalent at the time. Mancini´s music for the TV series "Peter Gunn" started an exceptional career as one of the most popular and successful film composers. Particularly while working on Blake Edwards pictures, he was able to develop his popular and much-beloved style mixing romance and humour. "Breakfast at Tiffany´s" (with the immortal song Moon River), and with "Days of Wine and Roses" (another Mancini standard), "Experiment in Terror", "The Pink Panther" (and all of its sequels), "The Great Race", "The Party", "Victor/Victoria" and many more Edwards pictures helped Mancini to become the sophisticated, subtle, sensitive and original composer that he was. Another director who benefitted from Mancini´s elegant scoring was Stanley Donen (Charade, Arabesque, Two for the Road). Henry's score for the Alfred Hitchcock film, Frenzy (1972), was ultimately rejected and replaced by Ron Goodwin's work. Mancini also composed for Howard Hawks (Hatari!, Man´s Favorite Sport), Martin Ritt (The Molly Maguires), Vittorio de Sica (Sunflower), Norman Jewison (Gaily Gaily), Paul Newman (Sometimes a Great Notion, The Glass Menagerie), Stanley Kramer (Oklahoma Crude), George Roy Hill (The Great Waldo Pepper), Arthur Hiller (Silver Streak), and Ted Kotcheff (Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?), among others.

He scored many television films, including “The Thorn Birds” and “The Shadow Box”. He wrote his share of television themes including “Mr. Lucky,” “NBC News Election Night Coverage,” "NBC Mystery Movie Theme", What's Happening, Newhart, Remington Steele, Tic Tac Dough (1990 version) and Hotel. Mancini also composed the "Viewer Mail" theme for "Late Night with David Letterman".

Mancini recorded over 90 albums in styles ranging from big band to classical to pops. Eight of these albums were certified gold by The Recording Industry Association of America. He had a 20 year contract with RCA resulting in 60 commercial record albums that made him a household name composer of sophisticated easy listening music. But Henry Mancini´s talents were much more elaborate than this label would suggest. He could handle big orchestral and ethnic scores with equal measures of power and ease (Lifeforce, The Big Mouse Detective, Sunflower, Molly Maguires, The Hawaiians). Regrettably, film producers and directors did not often ask him to display the darker and deeper sides of his one-of-a-kind musical personality (Experiment In Terror, The White Dawn, Wait Until Dark, The Night Visitor).

Henry was also a concert performer, conducting over fifty engagements per year, resulting in over 600 symphony performances during his lifetime. Among the symphony orchestras he conducted are the London Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the Boston Pops, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He appeared in 1966, 1980 and 1984 in command performances for the British Royal Family. He also toured several times with Johnny Mathis and with Andy Williams, who sung many of Mancini's songs.

Mancini died at the age 70 in Beverly Hills, California of pancreatic cancer. He left unfinished his work on the Broadway stage version of "Victor Victoria". Until his death Henry Mancini was married to singer Virginia O´Connor with whom he had three children, twin daughters Monica and Felice and son Christopher. Monica Mancini is a singing and recording artist herself. One of her albums was a selection of her father´s most haunting and beloved songs. In 1996 the Henry Mancini Institute was founded. Here young music professionals can further their experiences in preparation for careers in music.

Mancini was nominated for an unprecedented 72 Grammys, winning 20. Additionally he was nominated for 18 Academy Awards, winning four. He also won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for two Emmys.

Mancini won a total of four Oscars for his music in the course of his career. He was first nominated for an Academy Award in 1955 for his original score of The Glenn Miller Story, on which he collaborated with Joseph Gershenson. He lost out to Adolph Deutsch and Saul Chaplin's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. In 1962 he was nominated in the Best Music, Original Song category for "Bachelor in Paradise" from the film of the same name, in collaboration with lyricist Mack David. That song did not win. However Mancini did receive two Oscars that year; one in the same category, for the song "Moon River" (shared with lyricist Johnny Mercer), and one for "Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture" for Breakfast at Tiffany's. The following year, he and Mercer took another Best Song award for "Days of Wine and Roses", another eponymous theme song. His next eleven nominations went for naught, but he finally garnered one last statuette working with lyricist Leslie Bricusse on the score for Victor/Victoria, which won the "Best Music, Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Best Adaptation Score" award for 1983. All three of the films for which he won were directed by Blake Edwards. His score for Victor/Victoria was adapted for the 1995 Broadway musical of the same name.

William E. May, better known as Billy May (10 November 1916 22 January 2004) was an American composer, arranger and musician. He died of heart failure at the age of 87 in his home in San Juan Capistrano, California.

One of May's most popular compositions was the theme music of the Naked City television series in the early 1960s, "Somewhere in the Night".

May was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He played trumpet professionally in big bands such as those of Charlie Barnet starting in 1939, but became best known as a talented arranger. His arrangement of the Ray Noble composition Cherokee became a major hit of the swing music era.

May worked as an arranger for the bands of Glenn Miller and Les Brown before being hired as staff arranger first for the NBC radio network, then for Capitol Records.

At Capitol, May wrote arrangements for many top artists. These included Frank Sinatra on the albums Come Fly With Me, Come Dance With Me and Come Swing With Me; Nat King Cole on the albums Just One Of Those Things and Let's Face The Music!, as well as numerous singles (all his work with Cole being packaged later on the 2CD set The Billy May Sessions); Stan Freberg, with whom he was a longtime collaborator, featuring on many of the artist's comedy recordings; Peggy Lee on the album Pretty Eyes; Sue Raney on her second album Songs for a Raney Day; Vic Damone on the albums The Lively Ones and Strange Enchantment; Jeri Southern on the album Jeri Southern Meets Cole Porter; Keely Smith on the album Politely and on a duet single, "Nothing In Common"/"How Are Ya Fixed For Love?", with Sinatra; Bobby Darin on the album Oh! Look At Me Now; Nancy Wilson on the albums Like In Love, Something Wonderful, Tender Loving Care, Nancy - Naturally! and various tracks from the albums Just For Now and Lush Life; Matt Monro on several tracks from the album These Years; Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney on the album That Travelin' Two-Beat; and Sir George Shearing on the albums Satin Affair and Burnished Brass, co-arranged with Shearing (May also conducted Shearing's album Concerto For My Love, on which Shearing had sole credit for the arrangements).

In 1959, May won the Grammy Award for Best Performance by an Orchestra.

The Crosby-Clooney collaboration was a sequel to their earlier album on RCA Records, Fancy Meeting You Here, also arranged by May.

May’s other non-Capitol work included another Bing Crosby duet album, this time with Louis Armstrong, entitled Bing & Satchmo; a further duet album twinning Bobby Darin with Johnny Mercer, called Two Of A Kind; the sixth in Ella Fitzgerald's acclaimed series of Song Books for Verve Records, Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Harold Arlen Songbook; Mel Tormé’s Latin-flavoured album ¡Olé Tormé!; early albums by Jack Jones (Shall We Dance?) and Petula Clark (In Hollywood); one solitary session with Sarah Vaughan for Roulette Records in 1960, to record the single The Green Leaves of Summer and three other tracks; and two more albums with Keely Smith, recorded nearly forty years apart – CheroKeely Swings from 1962 and Keely Sings Sinatra, one of May’s last pieces of work, from 2001.

After Sinatra left Capitol to start his own label, Reprise Records, May continued to provide arrangements for him, off and on, for nearly thirty more years, working on the albums Sinatra Swings, Francis A. & Edward K. (with Duke Ellington) and Trilogy 1: The Past, as well as the chart for what is thought to be Sinatra's last ever solo recording, "Cry Me A River" (1988), which was eventually released on the 20 CD Box Set Frank Sinatra - The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings. In addition, May was the natural choice to arrange Sinatra's knockabout duet with Sammy Davis Jr., Me And My Shadow, which was a hit single on both sides of the Atlantic in 1962, whilst he also contributed to Sinatra's ambitious "Reprise Musical Repertory Theatre" project, providing a few arrangements for three of its four albums, South Pacific, Kiss Me Kate and Guys And Dolls, May's charts being variously performed by Sinatra, Davis, Crosby, Dean Martin, Jo Stafford and Lou Monte and yielding a perennial Sinatra concert favourite, "Luck Be A Lady" from Guys And Dolls.

May's charts often featured brisk tempos and intricate brass parts. One distinctive feature of his style is his frequent use of trumpet mute devices; another, a saxophone glissando, is widely known as his "slurping saxes". However, May was also an accomplished writer in slower tempos, sometimes using string arrangements. Good examples of this aspect of his work include his brass chart for "These Foolish Things" on the Cole album Just One Of Those Things and his string arrangement of "April In Paris" on Sinatra's Come Fly With Me album

Sy Oliver

Melvin "Sy" Oliver (born December 17, 1910 in Battle Creek, Michigan — died May 28, 1988 in New York City) was a jazz arranger, trumpeter, composer, singer and bandleader. His mother was a piano teacher and his father was a multi-instrumentalist who made a name for himself demonstrating saxophones at a time that instrument was little used outside of marching bands.

Oliver left home at 17 to play with Zack White and his Chocolate Beau Brummels and later with Alphonse Trent. He sang and played trumpet with these bands, becoming known for his "growling" horn playing.

He joined Jimmie Lunceford's band in 1933 and contributed many hit arrangements to the band, including "My Blue Heaven" and "Ain't She Sweet". In 1939, he became one of the first African Americans with a prominent role in a white band when he joined Tommy Dorsey as an arranger, though he ceased playing trumpet at that time. He led the transition of the Dorsey band from Dixieland to modern big band. His joining was instrumental in Buddy Rich's decision to join Dorsey. His arrangement of "On the Sunny Side of the Street" was big hit for Dorsey, as was his own composition, "Yes Indeed", a gospel-jazz tune that was later recorded by Ray Charles. After leaving Dorsey, he continued working as a free-lance arranger and as music director for Decca Records. In later years, up until 1980, he led his own jazz band, for which he took up the trumpet again.


Nelson Smock Riddle, Jr. (June 1, 1921 October 6, 1985) was a well-known American bandleader, arranger and orchestrator whose career spanned from the late 1940s until the early 1980s. Riddle is perhaps best known for his 1950s work for Capitol Records, providing jazzy big-band style arrangements to accompany such vocalists as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, Louis Prima and Keely Smith. Later, his arranging talents were also used by Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Bassey, Matt Monro, Linda Ronstadt, and others. His arrangements are characterized by innovative orchestration with counter melodies and instrumentation that express the emotions of each verse of a song.

Riddle was born in Oradell, New Jersey, the only child of Marie Albertine Riddle and Nelson Smock Riddle, Sr. Following his father's interest in music, he began taking piano lessons at age eight and trombone lessons at age fourteen. After his graduation from Ridgewood High School, Riddle spent his late teens and early 20s playing trombone in and occasionally arranging for various local dance bands, culminating in his association with the Charlie Spivak Orchestra.

In 1943, Riddle joined the Merchant Marine where he continued his musical work. After his enlistment term ended, Riddle travelled to Chicago to join the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in 1944; he remained the orchestra's third trombone for eleven months until drafted by the United States Army in April, 1945.

Just months after Riddle entered the Army, World War II ended and he was discharged in June 1946 after only fifteen months on active duty. Riddle moved shortly thereafter to Hollywood to pursue his career as an arranger, and spent the next several years ghostwriting arrangements for more established names in the music business, and also serving on the arranging staff at NBC.

In 1950, Riddle was hired by arranger Les Baxter to write arrangements for a recording session with Nat King Cole; this was one of Riddle's first associations with Capitol Records. Although one of the songs Riddle had arranged, "Mona Lisa," soon became the biggest selling single of Cole's career, the work was credited entirely to Baxter. However, once Cole learned the true identity of the arrangement's creator, he sought out Riddle's work for other sessions, and thus began a fruitful partnership that furthered the careers of both men at Capitol.

During the same year, Riddle also struck up a conversation with Vern Yocum, (born George Vernon Yocum) a big band jazz musician (brother of Pied Piper, Clark Yocum) who had transitioned into music preparation servicing Frank Sinatra. He also worked for Nat King Cole and other entertainers at Capitol Records. A collaboration followed with Vern becoming Riddle's "right hand" as copyist and librarian for the next thirty years.

In 1952, Capitol Records executives viewed the up-and-coming Riddle as a prime choice to arrange for the newly-arrived Frank Sinatra. Sinatra was reluctant however, preferring instead to remain with Axel Stordahl, his long-time collaborator from his Columbia Records years. When success of the first few Capitol sides with Stordahl proved disappointing, Sinatra eventually relented and Riddle was called in to arrange his first session for Sinatra, held on April 30, 1953. The first product of the Riddle-Sinatra partnership, "I've Got The World On A String", became a runaway hit and is often credited with relaunching the singer's slumping career.

Riddle was to stay at Capitol for another decade, during which time he continued to arrange for Sinatra and Cole, in addition to such Capitol artists as Dean Martin, Keely Smith, and Ed Townsend. He also found time to release his own instrumental albums on the label, most notably "Hey...Let Yourself Go" (1957) and "C'mon...Get Happy" (1958), both of which peaked at a respectable number twenty on the Billboard charts.

In 1962 Riddle orchestrated two albums for Ella Fitzgerald, Ella Swings Brightly with Nelson, and Ella Swings Gently with Nelson, their first work together since 1959's Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Songbook. The mid-1960's would also see Fitzgerald and Riddle collaborate on the last of Ella's 'Songbooks', devoted to the songs of Jerome Kern (Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Jerome Kern Songbook) and Johnny Mercer (Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Johnny Mercer Songbook).

In 1963, Riddle joined Sinatra's newly-established label Reprise Records. Much of his work in the 1960s and 1970s was for film and television, including his hit theme song for Route 66, steady work arranging episodes of Batman and other television series, and the scores of several motion pictures including the Rat Pack features Robin and the Seven Hoods and the original Ocean's Eleven.

In the latter half of the 1960s, the partnership between Riddle and Frank Sinatra grew more distant as Sinatra began increasingly to turn to Don Costa, Billy May and an assortment of other arrangers for his album projects. Although Riddle would write various arrangements for Sinatra until the late 1970s, Strangers In The Night, released in 1966, was the last full album project the pair completed together. The collection of Riddle-arranged songs was intended to expand on the success of the title track, which had been a number one hit single for Sinatra arranged by Ernie Freeman.

During the 1970s, the majority of his work was for film and television, including the score for the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby, which earned Riddle his first Academy Award after some five nominations. In 1973, he served as musical director for the Emmy Award winning The Julie Andrews Hour. Nelson Riddle also made numerous concert appearances throughout the 1970s, some of which were led by his good friend, Tommy Shepard.

In 1982, Riddle was approached by Linda Ronstadt and producer Peter Asher to write arrangements for an album of pop standards Ronstadt had been contemplating for some time. The end result was a three-album contract which included what were to be the last arrangements of Riddle's career.

1982 also saw Riddle work for the last time with Ella Fitzgerald, on her last orchestral Pablo album, The Best Is Yet to Come. Arrangements for Ronstadt's "What's New" (1983) and "Lush Life" (1984) won Riddle his second and third Grammy Awards (the last was awarded posthumously in 1986).

In 1985, Riddle died at age 64 of liver ailments. He is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, California.

Following Nelson Riddle's death, his last three arrangements for Linda Ronstadt's For Sentimental Reasons album were conducted by Terry Woodson; the album was released in 1986.

In February 1986, Riddle's youngest son Christopher, himself an accomplished bass trombonist, assumed the leadership of his father's orchestra. The Nelson Riddle Orchestra continues touring to this day, playing tribute concerts showcasing Riddle's arrangements for Frank Sinatra and others.

Following the death of Riddle's second wife Naomi in 1998, proceeds from the sale of the Riddle home in Bel Air were used to establish the Nelson Riddle Archives at the University of Arizona, which officially opened in 2001. The opening showcased a gala concert of Riddle's works, with Linda Ronstadt as a featured guest performer.

In 2000, Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops released a Nelson Riddle tribute album entitled "Route 66: That Nelson Riddle Sound" on Telarc Records. The album showcases expanded orchestral adaptations of the original arrangements provided by the Nelson Riddle Archives, and is presented in a state-of-the-art digital recording that was among the first titles to be released on multi-channel SACD.

While in the Army, Riddle married his first wife Doreen Moran in 1945. The couple had six children: In 1968, Riddle separated from his wife Doreen; their divorce became official in 1970. A few months later he married Naomi Tenenholtz, then his secretary, with whom he would remain for the rest of his life.

Gil Evans

Arranger and bandleader. One of the most unorthodox and revolutionary arrangers in jazz, Gil Evans explored orchestral colour and texture with extraordinary skill, frequently using just a handful of instruments to create the illusion of much larger forces, and introducing the timbres of French horn and orchestral tuba to the big band brass section.

His itinerant background took him from Canada to California, where he led his own bands in the 1930s. In the 1940s he joined Claude Thornhill's orchestra, and in writing for it combined his interest in European impressionist composers with the newly emergent sounds of bebop.

This was the background for his first important collaboration with Miles Davis in 1948-50, which became known as Birth of the Cool. On this album, Evans arranged such pieces as Boplicity for a nonet, but in the mid-50s he was reunited with Davis on a series of projects for trumpet solo and big band.

These are Evans's most celebrated works, and the best-known are the three albums Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain, the last-named dating from 1960. During this time he made some of his own big band discs, and in the 1960s and 1970s he led several of his own line-ups, eventually ending up with a regular Monday night band in New York that he led through the 1980s until his death.

In these he added electronic instruments, and as well as producing a stream of original compositions, arranged music by Jimi Hendrix and Charles Mingus, among others. The band continued after his death under the leadership of his son, Miles Evans.


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Last modified: 18/02/2012