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.