Thomas Talbert

Although Talbert is not well-known today, he was a talented arranger of small-groups and big-bands in the mid-1950s. Talbert was always in the wrong place at wrong times professionally, which proved to be a problem. In the late 1940s, just as California was becoming the center of new linear music, he moved from the West Coast and to New York. He gained popularity in New York but was soon upended by a new breed lightning-fast arrangers. This led to him being forced to work with formulaic pop records. He retired in 1960 and returned to the West Coast 15 years later. Talbert was born in Crystal Bay, Minn, on August 4, 1924. He was a self-taught musician, who was inspired by Chick Webb’s, Artie Shaw’s, Benny Goodman’s, Jimmie Lunceford, and Benny Goodman. Talbert was drafted during World War II and arranged music for a band of military soldiers that performed at War Bond Drives in California. After his discharge from the army Talbert remained in California to arrange for Johnny Richards orchestra. Between 1946 and 1949, Talbert led 12 bands, including Gene Roland, Hal McKusick and Dodo Marmarosa. Talbert left California after a record deal did not materialize. He moved to New York, where he was influenced by European classical music as well as modern classical composers. He arranged two albums for Atlantic in 1956: Patty McGovern’s Wednesday’s Child (vocalist) and his own Bix Duke Fats (Bix, Duke, Fats). Talbert lost all recording opportunities in New York over the years following the release of his Atlantic albums. In 1960, he left the music industry to run a small family business in rural Wisconsin. He returned to Los Angeles in the mid-1970s to continue writing for TV and movies. He began to record again and became an educator in the 1980s. This Is Living! was Talbert’s final album. It was recorded by Pipe Dream Records in 1997. Talbert passed away in July 2008.

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