Pete Rugolo Biography

25 December 1915, San Piero Patti, Messina, Sicily. Rugolo’s family moved to Santa Rosa, California, USA in 1920. After studying composing and arranging under classicist Darius Milhaud, Rugolo began writing arrangements for Stan Kenton. Many of Kenton’s most successful recordings of the late 40s were Rugolo charts and of these a high proportion were also his compositions. After his full-time collaboration with Kenton ended in 1949, Rugolo produced a number of recording sessions for Capitol Records including some with Miles Davis, Mel Tormé, Peggy Lee and Nat ‘King’ Cole. He also recorded with a studio band under his own name. The period with Capitol also saw him writing additional material for Kenton and his Innovations in Modern Music Orchestra, and he was arranger and musical director for June Christy’s Something Cool album. In the 50s he joined Columbia Records and in the late 50s was with Mercury Records, writing for Sarah Vaughan, Billy Eckstine and others. From the 60s into the early 80s he worked in film and television studios, eventually retiring in 1985. Heavily influenced by Kenton, Rugolo’s arrangements demonstrate his interest in developing ideas for the modern orchestra often as displays of technical virtuosity.

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

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