Melvin James (Sy) Oliver,was one of America's great jazz composers and arrangers of the big band era, and a musician who had a significant impact on American popular music.
Sy Oliver was born in Battle Creek, Mich., on Dec. 10, 1910. His parents were music teachers, and his father was also a concert singer. As a trumpeter in high school, Oliver played with Cliff Barnett's Club Royal Serenaders. and at age 17, he moved up to the more prestigious territory bands, working with Zack Whyte and his Chocolate Beau Brummels, where he began to hone his arranging skills, and with Alphonso Trent's band, which was based in Cincinnati.