Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The Great Riddle

Nelson Riddle

Today would have been the 90th birthday of the magnificent Nelson Riddle, bandleader, composer and orchestrator of some of the greatest musical moments of the 20th century (including his work with house favourites such as Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, Johnny Mathis, Rosemary Clooney and Keely Smith).

In 1950, Riddle was hired by composer Les Baxter to write arrangements for a recording session with Nat King Cole at Capitol Records. Although one of the songs Riddle had arranged, Mona Lisa soon became the biggest selling single of Cole's career, the work was credited to Baxter. However, once Cole learned the identity of the arrangement's creator, he sought out Riddle's work for other sessions, and thus began a successful partnership that furthered the careers of both men at Capitol.

Mona Lisa:


Mr Riddle was called upon to arrange sessions for Frank Sinatra in 1953, when the great man had just jumped ship from his old record label. Their collaborations were a huge success and he is often credited with relaunching the singer's slumping career - and a long and fruitful partnership between the two artists was born.

Moonlight in Vermont:


In the 60s he worked closely with the amazing Ella Fitzgerald, notably on several of her American Songbooks, such as that dedicated to Jerome Kern:

All The Things You Are:


In the 1970s he concentrated most significantly on film and TV themes, including Route 66, episodes of Batman and other television series, and motion pictures including The Great Gatsby, Robin and the 7 Hoods and the original Ocean's Eleven.

Then in the 80s, Mr Riddle made a resurgence in the unlikely company of rock/country singer Miss Linda Ronstadt - and their collaboration produced three hit albums, the last of which was released in the year of Mr Riddle's death in 1985 (and he never saw it win a Grammy).

What's New:


RIP a musical luminary...

Nelson Riddle official website

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