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Don Sebesky R.I.P.

lj

Well-Known Member
With the passing of the late, great Don Sebesky, we lost another musical giant. It got me to thinking how in popular music today we hear about the importance of record producers in helping create a certain sound for recording artists. However, back in the 1950s and 1960s during the heyday of MOR music it was the musical arranger who helped create the sound for recording artists. Back then before the synthesizer and sampling, the arranger was like a conductor of a pop symphony orchestra. He would arrange and orchestrate the rhythm section, the horns and strings in so many different and wonderful ways. Along with Sebesky, the list of great arrangers was long and deep. Think of the Nelson Riddle, Billy May, Gordon Jenkins, Quincy Jones, Don Costa arrangements for Sinatra. Off the top of my head, here are other so many others: Ray Conniff, Percy Faith, Mary Manning, Sid Feller, Mary Paich, Pat Williams, Jack Andrews, Nick Perito, Peter Metz, Ralph Burns, Marion Evans, Torre Zito, Nick De Caro, Bob Mersey, Johnny Mandel, Bob Florence, Perry Bodkin, Ralph Carmichael, Neal Hefti, Paul Weston, Eumir Deodato, Al Cohn, Gil Evans, David Rose, Henry Rene, Dave Grusin, Dick Hazard, Al De Lory. And remember the splendid arrangements written by Herb Alpert and Julius Wechter for the TJB and BMB.

Sebesky had an insightful comment about Bossa Nova from a 2010 interview conducted by Marc Myers: "The Bossa Nova was probably the demarcation line---where Jazz-pop ended and jazz-rock began---since the Brazilian form was so musical."
 
In my list of famous arrangers, I omitted the name of the greatest arranger of them all--Burt Bacharach. And in my opinion, he was the greatest combination composer/arranger of them all. No one could write songs and orchestrate them as brilliantly as Bacharach.
 
With the passing of the late, great Don Sebesky, we lost another musical giant. It got me to thinking how in popular music today we hear about the importance of record producers in helping create a certain sound for recording artists. However, back in the 1950s and 1960s during the heyday of MOR music it was the musical arranger who helped create the sound for recording artists. Back then before the synthesizer and sampling, the arranger was like a conductor of a pop symphony orchestra. He would arrange and orchestrate the rhythm section, the horns and strings in so many different and wonderful ways. Along with Sebesky, the list of great arrangers was long and deep. Think of the Nelson Riddle, Billy May, Gordon Jenkins, Quincy Jones, Don Costa arrangements for Sinatra. Off the top of my head, here are other so many others: Ray Conniff, Percy Faith, Mary Manning, Sid Feller, Mary Paich, Pat Williams, Jack Andrews, Nick Perito, Peter Metz, Ralph Burns, Marion Evans, Torre Zito, Nick De Caro, Bob Mersey, Johnny Mandel, Bob Florence, Perry Bodkin, Ralph Carmichael, Neal Hefti, Paul Weston, Eumir Deodato, Al Cohn, Gil Evans, David Rose, Henry Rene, Dave Grusin, Dick Hazard, Al De Lory. And remember the splendid arrangements written by Herb Alpert and Julius Wechter for the TJB and BMB.

Sebesky had an insightful comment about Bossa Nova from a 2010 interview conducted by Marc Myers: "The Bossa Nova was probably the demarcation line---where Jazz-pop ended and jazz-rock began---since the Brazilian form was so musical."
I became aware of Don Sebesky as an arranger when I had purchased Dionne Warwick albums in the early 70's. I did see some of his albums in stores and one was a very strange lp that seemed to be a story of some sorts with a strange scenario about disasters in California. I do remember that Merry Clayton was a vocalist on it but I do not remember the title of the album.
 
In my list of arrangers I had several first name spelling errors--it's Marty Manning and who won a Grammy for his arrangement of Tony Bennett's "I Left My Heart in San Francisco", and it's Marty Paich who was noted for his arrangements for Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme, Jack Jones and so many others.
 
West coast jazz great Shorty Rogers was another accomplished arranger. In his association with A&M records he arranged the vocals and strings for the TJB 1968 Christmas album. In 1969, he orchestrated the music from the TJB "Warm" album, which includes the magnificent Jorge Ben composition "Zazueira." On this track the interplay between the horns and vocals in Portuguese was exceptional.
 
Here are some more famous arrangers from this period of time:
'
Ernie Freeman--Everything he touched had the Midas touch. He arranged Dean Martin's 1964 #1 hit "Everybody Loves Somebody," and Frank Sinatra's 1966 #1 hit "Stranger's In the Night," and Vikki Carr's 1967 #3 hit and gold record "It Must Be Him," and Simon & Garfunkel's 1970 #1 hit "Bridge Over Troubled Water." In addition, Ernie won grammy awards for best arrangement for the Sinatra and Simon & Garfunkel songs.

Henry Mancini--the brilliant composer and arranger.

Claus Ogerman--the great arranger associated with Jobim.

Clare Fischer--a top composer and arranger.

Bob Alcivar, Bill Hollman and Bones Howe--for their great arrangements for the 5th Dimension.
 
Here are some more famous arrangers from this period of time:
'
Ernie Freeman--Everything he touched had the Midas touch. He arranged Dean Martin's 1964 #1 hit "Everybody Loves Somebody," and Frank Sinatra's 1966 #1 hit "Stranger's In the Night," and Vikki Carr's 1967 #3 hit and gold record "It Must Be Him," and Simon & Garfunkel's 1970 #1 hit "Bridge Over Troubled Water." In addition, Ernie won grammy awards for best arrangement for the Sinatra and Simon & Garfunkel songs.

Henry Mancini--the brilliant composer and arranger.

Claus Ogerman--the great arranger associated with Jobim.

Clare Fischer--a top composer and arranger.

Bob Alcivar, Bill Hollman and Bones Howe--for their great arrangements for the 5th Dimension.
The 5th Dimension is my second favorite group of all time.
Sergio Mendes and Brasil'66 ranks Number 1 for me.
 
Rockdoctor--you are right--the 5th and Brasil 66 are at the top of the musical list for me too. Here is a terrific song by the 5th Dimension written by Lambert and Potter, released in 1973 and is celebrating its 50th anniversary--"Ashes to Ashes."

 
There were some individuals who specialized as vocal arrangers. Most notably was the "other" Ray Charles. He was long associated with Perry Como with his Ray Charles Singers singing backup. In the 60s his group had a huge hit with "Love Me With All Heart." The link to Wikipedia shows he had an amazing musical resume. Anita Kerr of the Anita Kerr Singers was also a marvelous vocal arranger. And Andy Williams brother--Dick Williams--was also a top vocal arranger.

 
So sorry to hear of Mr. Sebesky's passing. I remember seeing his name on a LOT of CTI albums in the credits; most notably on Wes Montgomery's albums. With his arrangements, he enhanced the music; giving it a polish and sheen it elsewise probably it would have never had. He also contributed to the arrangements for Gino Vannelli's PAUPER IN PARADISE album. Thank you for the beautiful music, maestro; may you Rest In Peace and in Power.
 
There were some individuals who specialized as vocal arrangers. Most notably was the "other" Ray Charles. He was long associated with Perry Como with his Ray Charles Singers singing backup. In the 60s his group had a huge hit with "Love Me With All Heart." The link to Wikipedia shows he had an amazing musical resume. Anita Kerr of the Anita Kerr Singers was also a marvelous vocal arranger. And Andy Williams brother--Dick Williams--was also a top vocal arranger.

I have a three lp set of Anita Kerr with San Sebastian Strings and Rod McKuen -The Sea, The Earth, The Sky. I had seen the individual albums over the years and one day I was in a store in the DC area and saw that there was a set of all three. I did not have the money at the time and later when I went back it was gone. Several years later it was in a local store as a cutout for $5.99 which was half the price as a cutout in the store in DC. I really like it but I was not expecting so many vocals by Rod McKuen.
 
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Rockdoctor--you are right--the 5th and Brasil 66 are at the top of the musical list for me too. Here is a terrific song by the 5th Dimension written by Lambert and Potter, released in 1973 and is celebrating its 50th anniversary--"Ashes to Ashes."


It is hard to believe that this song is 50. It should have been more successful but since Lost Horizon was a bomb, I think people associated this album with the movie and buyers ignored the single.
 
The long list of great arrangers continues with these additional names: Lalo Schifrin, Jack Elliott, Allyn Ferguson, John Barry, Les Reed, Roger Kellaway, Alan Broadbent, Mike Post, Jack Nitzsche, Isaac Hayes, Michel Legrand, Andre Previn, Jimmie Haskell, Gerald Wilson, Barry White, Mitchell Ayres, Pete Rugolo, Gene Puerling, Si Oliver, Billy Strayhorn, Axel Stordahl, Bill Finegan, Eddie Sauter, Glenn Osser, Sammy Nestico, Tommy Newsom, Tom Scott, Frank De Vol, Robert Farnon, Harry Simeone, and Jack Andrews.
 
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