The songwriter of the month for November 2016 is Johnny Mandel.
Johnny Mandel was born in New York City on November 23, 1925. His mother was an opera singer who, discovering when her son, at just five years old, had perfect pitch, immediately started piano lessons for the young Johnny. However, he soon switched to trumpet and later the trombone.
Mandel studied at the Manhattan School of Music and Julliard. In 1943, he joined Joe Venuti’s band as trumpet player. He later joined several bands as a trombonist, including the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra and Chubby Jackson, among others. He start composing at that time for artists including Count Basie, Stan Getz and Chet Baker and had a successful career as an arranger as well.
His first credit as a film composer was in 1958 for the movie I Want To Live!, for which he was nominated for a Grammy Award. He went on to write some of the best known film songs of the last half of the 20th century, including “The Shadow of Your Smile” (from The Sandpiper), “Suicide is Painless” (from M*A*S*H), and “Emily.” He continued his work as an arranger for artists including Natalie Cole, Shirley Horn and Tony Bennett.
Johnny Mandell received the 2011 NEA Jazz Masters Award.
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