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|Birth name||Milton Rajonsky|
April 14, 1924|
Great Barrington, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||November 7, 1994
Van Nuys, California, U.S.
|Genres||Jazz, cool jazz|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, arranger, composer|
Milton "Shorty" Rogers (April 14, 1924 – November 7, 1994) was one of the principal creators of West Coast jazz. He played both the trumpet and flugelhorn, and was in demand for his skills as an arranger.
Rogers appeared on the 1954 Shelly Manne album The Three and the Two along with Jimmy Giuffre. Much of the music he recorded with Giuffre showed his experimental side, resulting in an early form of avant-garde jazz. He also made notable recordings with Art Pepper and André Previn, among others.
From 1953 through 1962 Rogers recorded a series of albums for RCA Victor (later reissued on RCA's Bluebird label), as well as a series of Atlantic albums with his own group, Shorty Rogers and His Giants, including Shorty Courts the Count (1954), The Swinging Mr. Rogers (1955), and Martians Come Back (1955), the album title alluding to the tune "Martians Go Home" which Rogers had composed and performed on The Swinging Mr. Rogers earlier the same year. These albums incorporated some of his more avant-garde music. To some extent they could be classified as "cool" jazz; but they also looked back to the "hot" style of Count Basie, whom Rogers always credited as a major inspiration.
Credited with the composition of the music for UPA's Mr. Magoo cartoon Hotsy Footsy and the Looney Tune Three Little Bops, Rogers eventually became better known for his skills as a composer and arranger than as a trumpeter.
In the critically acclaimed 1955 film The Man with the Golden Arm, starring Frank Sinatra, Eleanor Parker, Kim Novak, Arnold Stang and Darren McGavin, and directed by Otto Preminger, the film's jazz soundtrack was played by Shorty Rogers and His Giants with Shelly Manne.
Shorty Rogers and his Giants appear performing "Wig Alley" (a version of "Morpo") and the opening bars of "Manteca" in the club scene of the surreal 1955 cult film Dementia aka "Daughter of Horror" with Adrienne Barrett as The Gamin who is caught in a nightmarish maelstrom of deeds.
In the 1950s, when Igor Stravinsky began experimenting with dodecaphony, one of the twelve-tone techniques originally devised by Arnold Schoenberg, Stravinsky was very impressed with Rogers's playing, which, as Robert Craft reports in his book Conversations with Stravinsky, influenced the composer's 1958 choral work Threni.
In the 1958 Peter Gunn TV series episode The Frog Shorty plays flugelhorn as Lola Albright sings How High the Moon at Mother's. Rogers conducted the orchestra and chorus for Ray Peterson's 1959 hit "The Wonder of You".
After the early 1960s Rogers stopped performing on trumpet, and left the jazz scene for many years. Among other composing and arranging activities, he arranged a series of records for the Monkees (including "Daydream Believer") in the late 1960s, and in the 1970s wrote the jazzy background score to TV's The Partridge Family during the show's first season. He also contributed episode scores for the fourth season of Starsky & Hutch. Finally, in 1982, he was persuaded to pick up his trumpet and return to performing in jazz ensembles, playing first with Britain’s National Youth Jazz Orchestra and soon with Bud Shank and others. In the 1990s he was part of a Lighthouse All Stars group along with Shank, Bill Perkins, Bob Cooper, Conte Candoli, Claude Williamson, Monty Budwig, and John Guerin.
- Modern Sounds, Shorty Rogers & His Giants (1951; Capitol H-294)
- Popo (1951; Xanadu) with Art Pepper
- Short Stops (1953; Bluebird)
- Infinity Promenade (1953; RCA Victor 20-5503)
- Tale of an African Lobster (1953; RCA Victor 20-5503)
- Shorty Rogers and His "Giants" (1953; RCA Victor LPM-3137; 10 inch LP)
- Live from the Rendezvous Ballroom 1953 (Balboa Beach, California, July 11, 1953; Scarecrow SC-801)
- Bud Shank - Shorty Rogers - Bill Perkins (Pacific Jazz, 1954) - with Bud Shank
- Shorty Rogers Courts the Count (1954; RCA Victor LJM-1004)
- The Swinging Mr. Rogers (Atlantic, 1955)
- Martians Come Back! (Atlantic, 1955 )
- Way Up There (Atlantic, 1955 )
- Martians Stay Home (March 1, October 21 & November 3, 1955; Released in 1980 as Atlantic K50714)
- Clickin with Clax (March 27 & 30, 1956; Released in 1979 as Atlantic K50481)
- The Big Shorty Rogers Express (1956 RCA Victor LPM-1232)
- Wherever the Five Winds Blow (1956; RCA Victor LPM-1326)
- Shorty Rogers Plays Richard Rodgers (1957; RCA Victor LPM-1428)
- Portrait of Shorty (1957; RCA Victor LPM-1561)
- Afro-Cuban Influence (1958; RCA Victor LPM/LSP-1763)
- Chances Are It Swings (1958; RCA Victor LPM/LSP-1975)
- The Wizard of Oz and Other Harold Arlen Songs (1959; RCA Victor LPM/LSP-1997)
- The Swingin' Nutcracker (1960; RCA Victor LPM/LSP-2110)
- Shorty Rogers Meets Tarzan (1960; MGM E/SE-3798)
- The Fourth Dimension in Sound (1961; Warner Bros. W/WS-1443)
- Bossa Nova (1962; Reprise R/R9-6050) (Reissued as Return to Rio on Discovery DS-899)
- Jazz Waltz (1963; Reprise R/R9-6060)
- Gospel Mission (1963; Capitol T/ST-1960)
- California Concert (Contemporary, 1985) with Bud Shank
With Elmer Bernstein
- The Man with the Golden Arm (Decca, 1956)
with Teddy Charles
With Jimmy Giuffre
with Perez Prado
- Voodoo Suite (1955; RCA Victor LPM-1101)
With Bud Shank
- A Spoonful of Jazz (World Pacific, 1967)
With Harvey Mandel
- Righteous (1969; Philips PHS-600-306)
With Shelly Manne
- The West Coast Sound (Contemporary, 1955)
- My Son the Jazz Drummer! (Contemporary, 1962) - also trumpet and flugelhorn
- Shorty Rogers biography
- Interview with Shorty Rogers
- Alphabet Conspiracy - Shorty makes a brief appearance in this 1959 educational film.
- Shorty Rogers at Find a Grave