Pete Rugolo dies at age 95

Pete Rugolo, the chief arranger for the Stan Kenton Orchestra in its late-1940s heyday and a prolific composer and arranger for television and film, including the series “Richard Diamond, Private Detective,” “The Fugitive” and “Run for Your Life,” died on Sunday, 16 OCT 2011, in Sherman Oaks, Calif. He was 95. He was born in San Piero Patti, Sicily, Italy. His family emigrated to the United States in 1920 and settled in Santa Rosa, California. He began his career in music playing the baritone horn, like his father, but he quickly branched out into other instruments, notably the French horn and the piano. He received a bachelor's degree from San Francisco State College, and then went on to study composition with Darius Milhaud at Mills College in Oakland, California and earn his master's degree.
After he graduated, he was hired as an arranger and composer by guitarist and bandleader Johnny Richards. He spent World War II playing with altoist Paul Desmond in an army band.
After WWII, Rugolo worked for Stan Kenton, who headed one of the most musically 'progressive' big bands of the era. Rugolo provided arrangements and original compositions that drew on his knowledge of 20th century music, sometimes blurring the boundaries between jazz and classical music.
While Rugolo continued to work occasionally with Kenton in the 1950s, he spent more time creating arrangements for pop and jazz vocalists, including June Christy, Peggy Lee, the Four Freshmen, and Billy Eckstine, Nat King Cole, and Miles Davis. During this period he also worked for a while on film musicals at MGM, and served as an A&R director for Mercury Records in the late 1950s. Among his many albums were Adventures in Rhythm, Introducing Pete Rugolo, Rugolomania, Reeds in Hi-Fi and Music for Hi-Fi Bugs.

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