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.
Dan Tymchyshyn says
Just wanted to take a few moments to say how much I enjoy reading your daily posts regarding my favourite artist, Tony Bennett. My wife and I have seen Tony perform ” live ” a couple of times, over the yeras, here in the Toronto area. And, of course, I have most of his music in my CD collection.
And, your ‘newest’ idea of monthly posts concerning ” music collaborators ” is simply awesome, and everyone should be very pleased with your research efforts. Keep up the great work ! ! ! !
Thank you so much for your note. I’m happy to hear that you are enjoying the blog and, especially, that you like the new theme for 2017. I enjoy doing them and appreciate the feedback that you are enjoying it as well.
Robert Bray says
Yoh to “The year of Tony Bennett”: From what I understand about Marion Evans and, especially his work with Tony, the songs he has arranged over the years for Tony, and even for Tony and Gaga are the best ever arrangements I have heard. I remember watching the PBS show where the different arrangers were shown for each song. As far as my wife and I were concerned there really was “no contest” at all insofar as the best arrangements were concerned. So glad he is still working so well with you guys. Keep up the great work. We love you
I agree that Marion Evans is the greatest! He’s also a very nice person. He wrote me a comment a couple of years ago thanking me for recognizing the work of arrangers in the blog.
For the record, I am not associated with Tony Bennett in any way. I’m just a fan who loves his work and so created The Year Tony Bennett.
I listen the arrangement op Watch what happens (Tony Bennett & Natalie Cole) by Marion Evans and I want to plax it whis my own Big Band, but I can’t find this arrangement (sheet). Do you can help me.
I do not believe that any of these arrangements are published or for sale.
I had the honor of working with Marion when he pivoted from the money management business to building software for that business. Marion would relay many of his great stories about the music business in only the way Marion could. He s truly a Rennaissance man with many talents, and was a great mentor to me in my career.
Very few understand the impact Marion had on the evolution of modern financial investment accounting and management applications. I do.
Have had a hard time contacting Marion. He is at an advanced age, but I would bet my bottom dollar his mind is still smart as a whip. Hope he is well.
Thank you so much for your comment. I knew he had worked in the financial sector, but had no idea his work was that important. Like Marion, I am also from Alabama. and we attended the same college. We used to correspond quite frequently, but have fallen out of touch in recent years. I’ll send him an email and will let you know how that pans out.