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Shelly Manne

Shelly Manne - drums (1920 - 1984)

As a jazz drummer, studio musician, bandleader and businessman, Shelly Manne was one of the most prolific instrumentalists of modern times. “I’ve really had the best of both worlds,” he said in 1983. “I’ve kept busy playing jazz, and between engagements I’ve had the studios to fall back on.”

The New York City-born musician was the son of Max Manne, a percussionist who pioneered the synchronization of sound with motion pictures and cartoons, and nephew of Morris Manne, who did sound effects for Popeye cartoons. Shelly was introduced to jazz as a youth and was greatly influenced by Jo Jones and Dave Tough. During the early 1940s, he subbed for Tough, who suffered from alcoholism and epilepsy, in both the Benny Goodman and Joe Marsala bands. In the ’50s, Manne played the role of Tough in two motion pictures: The Five Pennies and The Gene Krupa Story.

A first-generation bebopper who played on Dizzy Gillespie’s earliest recordings as leader, Manne developed a national reputation for his 1946-1952 membership in Stan Kenton’s hugely popular “progressive jazz” orchestra. In 1954, two years after relocating to Southern California, he launched a lucrative Hollywood studio career, beginning with Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. For the next two and a half decades, Manne was the percussionist of choice for such composers as Elmer Bernstein, Jerry Goldsmith, Henry Mancini, and John Williams, contributing to countless motion picture and television soundtracks.

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