Manny Albam

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Manny Albam
Manny Albam conducting.jpg
Manny Albam conducting
Background information
Born(1922-06-24)June 24, 1922
Samana, Dominican Republic
DiedOctober 2, 2001(2001-10-02) (aged 79)
Croton-on-Hudson, New York, United States
GenresJazz, Latin jazz
InstrumentsBaritone saxophone, clarinet
LabelsSolid State
Associated actsBuddy Rich, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman

Manny Albam (June 24, 1922– October 2, 2001 was a jazz baritone saxophonist, composer, arranger, record producer, and educator.[1][2]


Early life and musical education[edit]

The son of Lithuanian immigrants, who was born in the Dominican Republic when his mother went into labour en route to the United States, Albam grew up in New York City.[3] He became interested in jazz on hearing Bix Beiderbecke and at sixteen dropped out of school to play for Dixieland trumpeter-leader Muggsy Spanier, but it was his membership in a group led by Georgie Auld that turned Albam's career around.

Early career as an arranger[edit]

The Auld group included saxophonist Budd Johnson, then a primary arranger for the group, and Johnson mentored Albam as an arranger. By 1950, Albam had put down his baritone sax and began to concentrate strictly on arranging, writing, and leading. Within a few years, he became known for a bebop-oriented style that emphasised taut and witty writing with a flair for distinctive shadings(Flute-led reed sections became something of an Albam trademark). One of his most popular works from that era was an Afro-Latin composition he did for the Stan Kenton Innovations Orchestra entitled Samana, named after his birthplace in the Dominican Republic.[4]

He became known for his work for bandleaders Charlie Barnet and Charlie Spivak, before moving forward to collaborate with jazzmen as varied as Count Basie, Stan Getz, Bob Brookmeyer (who frequently appeared on Albam's own albums as a leader), Coleman Hawkins (particularly the tenor saxophone pioneer's late-life but spry recording of "I Love Paris"), Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, Hank Jones, Mel Lewis, Art Farmer, Urbie Green, and Milt Hinton, among others, on their recordings and on his own recordings as a leader for several labels.

West Side Story and working for United Artists-Solid State Records[edit]

Albam also found an entree into the classical music world when he arranged Leonard Bernstein's score for West Side Story in 1957. The work earned Albam a Grammy Nomination in 1959. Bernstein was said to have been so impressed that he invited Albam to write for the New York Philharmonic itself, an invitation, according to, that led Albam to study classical music for a time and, in due course, write such works as Concerto for Trombone and Strings.

By 1964, Albam became musical director for United Artists-Solid State Records; his jazz suite The Soul of the City was released on that label two years later. Following that, Albam turned increasingly to teaching, a pursuit he continued until his death of cancer in 2001.[5]

He also did the score for a few films and television programs; a song of his was included in Waking the Dead.[6]

Among the Albam recordings that remain available for listeners today are The Blues is Everybody's Business, The Drum Suite, The Jazz Workshop, Jazz New York, and Something New, Something Blue.

Manny Albam as educator[edit]

With the encouragement of close friend Rayburn Wright, Albam started teaching summer workshops at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York in 1964. He later joined the faculties of Glassboro State College in New Jersey and the Manhattan School of Music in New York. In 1988, he helped establish the BMI Jazz Composer's Workshop to foster young composers and arrangers. In 1991 he eventually took over as director from Bob Brookmeyer. He has as long list of former students throughout the music industry and in higher education.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Manny Albam among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[7]


As artist[edit]

As arranger[edit]

With Count Basie

With Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band

With Al Cohn

With Jose Feliciano

  • Jose Feliciano Sings (RCA, 1972)

With Curtis Fuller

With Freddie Green

With Coleman Hawkins

With Groove Holmes

With O'Donel Levy

With Jimmy McGriff

With Joe Newman

With Freda Payne

With Oscar Peterson

With Buddy Rich

With Zoot Sims

  • New Beat Bossa Nova (Colpix, 1962)

With Dakota Staton

With Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson

With Dionne Warwick

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Strunk, Steven; Kernfeld, Barry (2002). Barry Kernfeld (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz Vol. 1 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries. p. 24. ISBN 1561592846.
  2. ^ Cook, Richard (2005). Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia. London: Penguin Books. p. 6. ISBN 0-141-00646-3.
  3. ^ Down Beat Profile
  4. ^ Sparke, Michael. Stan Kenton: This is an Orchestra. UNT Press, 2010. page 91
  5. ^ All Music
  6. ^ IMDB
  7. ^ Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.

External links[edit]