Born: June 29, 1922 Primary Instrument: Composer/conductor
Of the dozens of fine composers and arrangers to come out of New England, none was ever more accomplished or more prolific than Ralph Burns, who left indelible marks on music in America from coast to coast and not only in the jazz idiom.
While with Herman in the late 1940s, Burns was the anchor of a composing/arranging staff unsurpassed in big band history. Among his colleagues were Nat Pierce, Neal Hefti, Shorty Rogers, Red Norvo, Bill Harris, Terry Gibbs, Jimmy Giuffre and even Igor Stravinsky, who was inspired to compose “Ebony Concerto” for Herman after hearing some of the works Burns had done for the band. Burns was impressionable himself and often stayed up all night listening to records of Stravinsky, Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker....