Skip Martin: TV Jazz Themes


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One of the first arrangers and bandleaders to take on Henry Mancini's music was Skip Martin (above). In the summer of 1958, Martin, one of the most prolific arrangers of the swing era, recorded TV Jazz Themes with his “video all stars" for Los Angeles's Somerset label. The six Mancini selections on the album from the Peter Gunn private eye TV drama were recorded in advance of the show's first season, which began airing in September of '58. Which means Mancini gave his blessing in an effort to attract the bachelor demographic to the show.

The Martin album featured a stellar band used in smaller configurations on several of the songs. On The Brothers Go to Mothers, Soft Sounds, Dreamsville, The Thin Man and Richard Diamond Theme, the orchestra's personnel included: Don Fagerquist, Ray Linn, Conrad Gozzo, Pete Candoli, Frank Beach, Joe Triscari, Vince Terri, Gene Sherry and Jimmy Salko (tp); Joe Howard, Dick Nash, Frank Rosolino and George Roberts (tb); Jimmy McGee (fhr); Gus Bivona, Paul Horn, Bob Cooper, Jules Jacobs and Pete Terry (reeds); Gene Estes (vib); Jimmy Rowles (p); Al Hendrickson (g) or Vince Terry (g); Red Mitchell (b); Shelly Manne (d,perc) or Irv Cottler (d,perc); Larry Bunker (vib,perc) and Skip Martin (arr,cond).

On the Peter Gunn Theme, Fallout, Session's at Pete's Pad and the 77 Sunset Strip Theme, the orchestra included: Gene Sherry and Joe Triscari (tp); Frank Rosolino, George Roberts, Dick Nash and Joe Howard (tb); Jimmy McGee (fhr); Gus Bivona (cl,as); Paul Horn (as,fl); Bob Cooper (ts,oboe); Pete Terry (ts); Jules Jacobs (ts,oboe); Jimmy Rowles (p); Red Mitchell (b) and Shelly Manne (d).

Music from the Peter Gunn TV show recorded before the series aired including Mancini's arranged Ray Anthony single, Ted Nash and Maxwell Davis's Peter Gunn album, and Mancini's own Music From Peter Gunn. After the Mancini album was released in 1959, he won an Emmy Award and two Grammys, one for Album of the Year and and the other for Best Arrangement. From there, the theme and music from the TV show were recorded by many West Coast jazz artists.

JazzWax clip: Here's The Brothers Go to Mothers, featuring gorgeous solos by trombonist Frank Rosolino and tenor saxophonist Bob Cooper, backed by Larry Bunker (vib), Al Hendrickson (g), Red Mitchell (b) and Shelly Manne. Dig Manne's brushwork...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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