Lennie Niehaus Octet Biography

11 June 1929, St. Louis, Missouri, USA. After completing his studies at university in California, to where his family had moved when he was seven years old, alto saxophonist Niehaus joined Jerry Wald and then Stan Kenton in 1951. Apart from a spell away in the army, he remained with the Kenton band until 1960. During this period Niehaus also recorded under his own name and played and recorded with other small groups, including that led by Shorty Rogers. From the 60s onwards Niehaus was active in film and television studios, writing scores for a number of movies including two, City Heat (1984) and Pale Rider (1985), that starred Clint Eastwood.

When Eastwood came to make his film about Charlie Parker, Bird (1988), he invited Niehaus to handle the complex musical problems, which included writing the score and ‘engineering’ Parker’s solos so that they could be re-recorded with new accompaniments. The skill and integrity with which Niehaus accomplished this difficult task represent one of the highlights of the film. A brilliant technician, playing with a hard-edged sound, Niehaus sometimes fails to engage the emotions of his listeners, but for the most part overcomes this failing through an extraordinary rush of exciting ideas.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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