Manny Albam Biography

Emmanuel Albam, 24 June 1922, Samana, Dominican Republic, d. 2 October 2001, Croton-On-Hudson, New York, USA. Raised in New York, Albam became interested in jazz as a child and occasionally sat in at a club in the Village, playing alto saxophone. At the age of 16 he graduated from high school and joined Muggsy Spanier’s band, then worked with Bob Chester before playing baritone saxophone with Georgie Auld. Albam also played with the bands of Sam Donahue, Charlie Barnet and Charlie Spivak but, encouraged by Budd Johnson, began to make his mark as an arranger. In 1957, he wrote a jazz arrangement of Leonard Bernstein’s music from West Side Story, which met with the composer’s approval. That same year he began to experiment with long works, which resulted in a succession of fine albums including The Blues Is Everybody’s Business, The Drum Suite, and Soul Of The City. Rooted in late-swing era big band style, Albam’s work exemplified the best of mainstream writing. However, inspired by Dizzy Gillespie, he absorbed later concepts in jazz to become an accomplished arranger for countless small groups including those led by Stan Getz, Terry Gibbs, Gillespie and Gerry Mulligan. He also devised effective arrangements for major song stylists such as Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae. In the 50s, Albam briefly studied classical composition under Tibor Serly and his later works included ‘Concerto For Trombone And Strings’ and ‘Concerto For Alto Saxophone And Jazz Orchestra’. Always eager to pass on his knowledge and experience, Albam was involved in teaching, mostly at Eastman College, from the mid-60s onwards. He was also a founder of BMI’s Jazz Composers Workshop.

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

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