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Manny Albam

Manny Albam - arranger, As a jazz composer, arranger, conductor and teacher, in a career that spanned seven decades, Manny Albam worked with some of the most celebrated jazz performers, including Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Stan Getz, Sarah Vaughn, Count Basie, McCoy Tyner, Roland Hanna, Carmen McCrea and Bob Brookmeyer. His most recent recording was the 1999 CD, “If You Could See Us Now!,” Nancy Marano & Manny Albam. He also arranged Joe Lovano’s critically-hailed 1997 CD, “Celebrating Sinatra,” and arranged and conducted Hank Jones and the Meridian String Quartet. Albam’s 1958 jazz version of “West Side Story” was nominated for a Grammy. Albam’s compositional style, which combined sophisticated harmonies with a deep sense of fun, were as recognizable to his fans as the great dust-broom of a mustache he wore for much of his adult life. But his charts always provided a sturdy underpinning for the great soloists with whom he worked throughout his career and whom he held in great esteem. “He is a rare and precious talent,” said saxophonist Phil Woods, a frequent collaborator. Born in the Dominican Republic on June 24, 1922, and raised in New York City, Albam started playing alto and baritone saxophone professionally while still at Stuyvesant High School. After a brief service in the Army during World War II, he toured with the big bands of Charlie Barnet, Jerry Wald and Sam Donahue as both a sax player and arranger. In 1950 he put down his horn and began working full-time as a freelance composer and arranger in New York. In addition to dozens of jazz recordings, Albam also wrote music for television movies, (“Four Clowns,” “Around the World of Mike Todd,” “The Glory Trail”) and commercials for Coca Cola, Gillette and Chevrolet, among others. In later years he ventured into more ambitious orchestral compositions that combined jazz harmonies and soaring instrumental solos with contemporary classical compositional techniques. Several of these, including one performed by Bud Shank and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra were released on CDs. A dedicated teacher, Albam was a founder of BMI’s Jazz Composers Workshop and at the time of his death was still serving along with Jim McNeely as Co-Musical Director. He was also a professor of composition at the Manhattan School of Music. He was previously co-director of the Eastman School of Music’s prestigious summer arranger’s workshop. Manny Albam passed on Oct. 2, 2001 at his home in New York.


Album Review

Manny Albam: Jazz Workshop

Read "Jazz Workshop" reviewed by David Rickert

Behind the scenes Manny Albam contributed to the books of Charlie Spivak, Count Basie, Woody Herman and Stan Kenton. Like many other arrangers, he was also inspired to strike out on his own and record albums as a leader. This set from Lone Hill Jazz collects his first two sessions as a leader.

The first session, from 1955, collects a large group of prominent musicians--Bob Brookmeyer, Billy Byers, Milt Hinton, Urbie Green, and Thad Jones to name a ...

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BMI Jazz Composers Workshop

BMI Jazz Composers Workshop

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

Twenty-five years ago, composer-arrangers Manny Albam  [pictured] and Bob Brookmeyer were growing worried. In the late 1980s, big bands seemed to be going the way of the typewriter, and unless something was done to reverse the trend, jazz orchestra arrangers would no longer be needed and scoring for bands would become a lost art. At roughly the same time, Broadcast Music Inc.—the royalty-collection and music-rights management company—decided that it needed to step up and support jazz and jazz musicians. When ...



Albam from the Archives

Albam from the Archives

Source: Rifftides by Doug Ramsey

One Monday night in the '70s, I found myself seated at a table in the Village Vanguard with Manny Albam, listening to the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. During a break, I said to him, “I wonder why you haven't written something for this band."

“So do I," he said.

To my knowledge, Albam never did write for the Jones-Lewis band. I wish that he had. He created wonderful music for lots of other people, though. It has always puzzled ...



Manny Albam: The Drum Suite

Manny Albam: The Drum Suite

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

One of the most swinging and inventive arrangers of the 1950s was Manny Albam. In addition to being a gifted writer, he had a knack for attracting the most superb big band musicians of the period to his recording sessions. Like Ernie Wilkins and Al Cohn, Albam could create charts that were packed with sudden excitement and loads of swinging wallop and twists and turns. As Johnny Mandel said to me recently, “Manny didn't know how to be dull."

Of ...

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