Nat Pierce

Nat Pierce was a distinguished and low-profile figure in the world of swing. He was co-leader of Los Angeles’ crack Frank Capp/Nat Pierce Juggernaut, and also arranged for many well-known solo and big band artists. When he was paired with a strong, swinging drummer like Capp who often hailed closely to the loping drive of the post-’50s Count Basie Orchestra orchestra, his scores were irresistible. Pierce’s simple, delicious piano style was often compared to Basie’s. He also subbed for the great man from the late 1950s through his death in 1984. Pierce attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Massachusetts and worked with Boston bands. He also ran his own big band that featured Charlie Mariano between 1949 and 1951. He had already begun shopping arrangements for Woody Herman and Basie, so he joined Herman’s Third Herd as pianist/arranger in 1951. He remained there until 1955. After leaving New York, Pierce settled down in New York City. He became a freelance arranger and recording pianist and occasionally led bands. His work included arrangements for Ruby Braff and Lester Young. Hendricks, who was his first and most well-known project, wrote the arrangements for The Sound of Jazz TV show. He also played piano with the Basie rhythm section during the first ear-opening Lambert, Hendricks.

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