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Heinie Beau: Moviesville Jazz

SOURCE: Published: 2014-02-19
He probably had the squarest name of all the Hollywood arrangers in the 1950s, but saxophonist and clarinetist Heinie Beau could write and play. He was in many of the best bands of the 1940s and became one of Hollywood's top ghost arrangers. But Beau recorded only one notable jazz album in the 1950s—Moviesville Jazz: Heinie Beau and His Hollywood Jazz Stars (Coral), in June 1958.

The ablum is notable for its unusual charts and monster studio musicians. On half the album—The Three Hands of Adam, The House on Olivera St., The Gina Pastrami Cha Cha Cha, Moonset Boulevard, the Five and Half Gallon Hat Story and Gullible Travels, the studio band featured Don Fagerquist (tp), Jack Cave (fhr), Heinie Beau (fl,cl,as,arr), Ted Nash (fl,cl,as), Bill Ulyate (b-cl,bar,bassax), Tony Rizzi (g), Red Callender (b), Jack Sperling (d) and Frank Flynn (perc,vib,xyl).

On the remaining six—In Your Private Eye, The Tattooed Street Car Named Baby, The Cool Tin Roof Story, Under the Blow Top, The Man With the Golden Embouchure and Scotland Yardbird, the band included Fagerquist (tp), John Graas (fhr), Beau (fl,cl,as,arr), Buddy Collette (fl,cl,ts), Chuck Gentry (b-cl,bar,bassax), Howard Roberts (g), Red Mitchell (b), Bill Richmond (d) and Flynn (perc,vib,xyl). [Photo above of Don Fagerquist]

Don't let the quirky song titles fool you. The arrangements are aces and the playing terrific. There's a compact, cinematic feel to the work, and each musician is given a chance to be heard, particularly Fagerquist.

So who was Beau?

In the early 1940s, Beau recorded with Tommy Dorsey when Frank Sinatra [above] was in the orchestra and the Beau-Sinatra relationship would prove to be valuable in LP era. In the mid-1940s, Beau played on Capitol recording sessions for Peggy Lee, Billy May and Jo Stafford. In 1946, he was in Artie Shaw orchestra and Benny Goodman's and Woody Herman's in 1947. There also were recordings with Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden in 1951.

When the LP era kicked into high gear in the early '50s and arrangers were needed to help labels meet enormous pop quotas and movie studios record soundtracks, Beau traded his reeds for pencils. Beau's first arranging credit was Violets for Your Furs in 1941 while he was in Dorsey's band with Sinatra. Beau also arranged for Red Nichols in 1945 and Ziggy Elman in 1950. His charts backed Peggy Lee and Jeri Southern, on Occasional Man in 1955. [Photo above, from left: Heinie Beau, Johnny Mince and Freddie Stulce in Las Vegas]

Most important, Beau wrote the arrangement for Sinatra's Columbia recording of Birth Of The Blues in 1952 and Lean Baby for Capitol—the first track recorded by Sinatra at his first Capitol recording session in April 1953.

Typically Beau and George Sirvano were brought in to imitate Nelson Riddle or Billy May when those headline arrangers became too busy with recording projects, particularly on the up-tempo numbers. According to Will Friedwald in his Sinatra book, The Song Is You[Photo above: Nelson Riddle and Frank Sinatra]

“Beau is probably the only arranger to work continually with Sinatra from the Dorsey days through the Reprise era. 'Whenever Paul [Weston] or I would get stuck, Heinie would help us out,' said May. 'Heinie Beau was a very gifted man—and fast,' recalled trumpeter Zeke Zachary. 'You needed something done quick, and he'd have it.' May added that 'Heinie worked for both Paul and myself, so he could imitate either one of us. He wrote like me because that's what I wanted.'

“Beau was also responsible for much of Sinatra's final two Capitol albums, both from 1961—Come Swing With Me, on which he wrote seven of the 12 charts, and Point of No Return, for which he wrote three. May was in particular need of Beau's services in 1961 because in addition to his usually full schedule of vocal and instrumental albums, he was also serving as musical director on Milton Berle's weekly variety series."

Beau would not record under his own name again until the 1980s—Heinie Beau & His Hollywood Quartet (1980), Blues for Two (1982) and Heinie Beau & His Hollywood Sextet (1984), all for his own Henri label. Beau died in 1987 at age 75.

JazzWax tracks: I found Moviesville Jazz: Heinie Beau and his Hollywood Jazz Stars at iTunes and Amazon here.

JazzWax clip: Here's Heinie Beau's arrangement of Violets for Your Furs by Tommy Dorsey's Orchestra in 1941with Frank Sinatra—with an emphasis on the clarinet...


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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved.
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