In the 1950s, Mellé's paintings and sculptures were shown in New York City galleries and he created the cover art for albums by Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins. Mellé played the tenor and baritone saxophone with George Wallington, Max Roach, Tal Farlow, Oscar Pettiford, Ed Thigpen, Kenny Dorham and Zoot Sims, and led a number of sessions recorded for the Blue Note and Prestige labels between 1953 and 1957.
It was Mellé who introduced engineer Rudy Van Gelder to Alfred Lion, the Blue Note Records founder, in 1952. Lion had been impressed with the sound of Mellé's recordings, which were engineered by Van Gelder. Van Gelder was responsible for hundreds of recordings on Blue Note, virtually every session on the label from 1953 to 1967.
As a film and TV composer, Mellé was one of the first to use self-built electronic instruments, either alone or as an added voice among the string, wind, brass, and percussion sections of the orchestra. He was the first to compose a main theme for an American television series arranged entirely for electronic instruments (Rod Serling's Night Gallery).
His credits spanned over 100 film works including The Andromeda Strain (1971), The Organization (1971), Bone (1972), You'll Like My Mother (1972), The Savage is Loose (1974), The Ultimate Warrior (1975), Embryo (1976), The Sentinel (1977), Starship Invasions (1977), Borderline (1980), Blood Beach (1981) and The Last Chase (1981), and TV movies such as My Sweet Charlie (1970), That Certain Summer (1972), The Judge and Jake Wyler (1972), A Cold Night's Death (1973), The President's Plane Is Missing (1973), Frankenstein: The True Story (1973), The Questor Tapes (1974), Killdozer! (1974), Death Scream (1975), A Vacation in Hell (1979), The Curse of King Tut's Tomb (1980) and World War III (1982). Memorables his credits for the NBC's TV series Columbo for which he wrote the themes for four episodes of the first season: "Death Lends a Hand" (1971), "Dead Weight" (1971), "Short Fuse" (1972) and "Blueprint for Murder" (1972).
As composer and arranger
- Gil Mellé Quintet (Blue Note, 1953)
- New Faces, New Sounds (Blue Note, 1953)
- Gil Mellé Quintet with Urbie Green & Tal Farlow (Blue Note, 1954)
- Five Impressions of Color (Blue Note, 1955)
- Patterns in Jazz (Blue Note, 1956)
- Primitive Modern (Prestige, 1956)
- Gil's Guests (Prestige, 1956)
- Quadrama (Prestige, 1957)
- Tome VI (Verve, 1967)
- Waterbirds (1970)
- Andromeda Strain (1971)
- Mindscapes (Blue Note, 1991)
- The Organization (Intrada, 2010). World premiere release of the original soundtrack of the 1971 film. Produced by Douglass Fake. Liner notes by James Phillips. Art Direction by Joe Sikoyak.
- Borderline (Intrada, 2012). World premiere release of the original score to the 1980 film. Produced by Douglass Fake. Liner Notes by James Phillips. Art Direction by Joe Sikoyak.
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