Manny Albam - click to enlarge

Photo by Marilyn Harris
More great musician photos by Marilyn Harris

His was a rare and precious talent.
Phil Woods
He was the dearest man that could be, and an irreplaceable friend and mentor.
Bob Brookmeyer

Manny was born Emmanuel Albam, 24 June 1922 in Samana in the Dominican Republic.

At the age of 16 he graduated from high school and joined Muggsy Spanier's band on alto saxophone, then worked briefly with Bob Chester before moving on to baritone saxophone with Georgie Auld. He went on to play with the Sam Donahue, Charlie Barnet and Charlie Spivak bands.

In 1957 he wrote a jazz arrangement of Leonard Bernstein's music from West Side Story and began to experiment with long works, which resulted in a succession of albums including The Blues Is Everybody's Business, Soul Of The City and The Drum Suite

Later on he became an accomplished arranger for countless small groups, including those led by Stan Getz, Terry Gibbs, Gillespie and Gerry Mulligan. He also wrote for Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae. He studied classical composition under Tibor Serly and his works include the beautiful Concerto For Trombone And Strings.

He founded the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, and after three years as associate musical director, was promoted to musical director. He was also a professor of composition at the Manhattan School of Music, and, previously co-director of the Eastman School of Music’s prestigious summer arranger’s workshop. Over the next three decades, he made education his focus, teaching at Glassboro State College in New Jersey and eventually assuming the post of composition professor at the Manhattan School of Music.

During his career Albam worked with some of the 20th century’s most celebrated jazz performers, including Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Stan Getz, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, McCoy Tyner, Roland Hanna, Carmen McCrea and Bob Brookmeyer.

His scores provided a sturdy underpinning for the great soloists with whom he worked throughout his career.