Johnny Richards

Johnny Richards was one the most progressive-minded arrangers in the 1950s and 1960s. He created large, orchestrated scores with an unabashed use dissonance and a great feel for Latin rhythms. Although his music is often called “provocatively vibrant,” the truth is that it was simply the word “provocative” in the case Stan Kenton’s notoriously ominous “Prologue”. Richards was born in Schenectady and learned piano, banjo, and trumpet from his mother, who was a concert pianist who had studied under Paderewski. While studying composition with Arnold Schoenberg, Richards began writing film scores in London in 1932-1933. He then moved to Hollywood as Victor Young’s assistant at Paramount. He led a large band from 1940 to 1945 and returned to Los Angeles to arrange Boyd Raeburn and Charlie Barnet’s music. In 1950, he also organized a string album for Dizzy Gilespie. He also recorded dates with Sarah Vaughan and Helen Merrill. Kenton was his most prominent association. Kenton’s album Cuban Fire is the result of their arrangement. Richards’ work is outstandingly colorful. Richards led his orchestras from 1956-1960 to 1964-1965. He also recorded for Capitol, Coral and Roulette. Richards also co-wrote “Young at Heart,” one of Frank Sinatra‚Äôs most famous songs. Allmusic

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