The Year of Tony Bennett is proud to name arranger Marion Evans as the collaborator of the month for February 2017.
Marion Evans, a native of Alabama, started his musical career at Auburn University, playing the trumpet in what was then the best college dance band in America. He interrupted his education to serve as a United States Marine in World War II, stationed in the Pacific Theater.
He returned to Auburn to continue his education in engineering after the war. At the same time, a friend sent some of his old college arrangements to Tex Beneke, who had taken over as the lead of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, following Miller’s death. These arrangements led to a job offer with the band. He moved to New York and enrolled at Juilliard, using the same GI Bill that sent Tony Bennett to the Actor’s Studio.
His career took off and in the 1950s and 1960s, he wrote arrangements for Tommy Dorsey, Percy Faith and Count Basie, among many others. He orchestrated the music for one of my favorite films, Some Like It Hot, Broadway shows, television and many vocalists, including Eydie Gorme’s “Blame It On The Bossa Nova.”
Evans’ first association was with Tony Bennett for Bennett’s 1967 album Tony Makes It Happen!, which he arranged and conducted. They were reunited in 2011, when Bennett asked him to do a last-minute orchestration of “The Lady Is A Tramp” for Lady Gaga and Bennett to record for Duets II. He’s continued to work for Bennett, including work on Cheek To Cheek as well as other projects.
We’ll be playing arrangements by Mr. Evans throughout the month. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
If you’d like to read more about Marion Evans …
The Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802, honored Marion Evans in September 2016 by playing some of his great arrangements in concert with the 48th Street Big Band. You can read about the concert in their newsletter, Allegro.
Marion and his wife Terri live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. These links are stories about Marion from local newspapers.
“The Beat Goes On” from the The Midweek Wire – Lower Bucks Times
“The arranger behind the Grammy-winning Tony Bennett/Lady Gaga album talks recording then and now,” also from The Midweek Wire.