DON SEBESKY is one of our favorite arrangers.
Don Sebesky is best known as house arranger for many of producer Creed Taylor’s Verve, A&M, and CTI productions; the man whose orchestral backgrounds helped make artists like Wes Montgomery, Paul Desmond, Freddie Hubbard, and George Benson acceptable to audiences outside of jazz.
He has taken critical heat for this, but Sebesky’s arrangements have usually been among the classiest in his field, reflecting a solid knowledge of the orchestra, drawing variously from big band jazz, rock, ethnic music, classical music of all eras, and even the avant-garde for ideas. He once cited Bartok as his favorite composer, but one also hears lots of Stravinsky in his work.
In 1960, he gave up the trombone to concentrate upon arranging and conducting, eventually receiving the breakthrough assignment of Montgomery’s Bumpin’ album (1965). Some of the most attractive examples of his work for jazz headliners include Bumpin’, Benson’s The Shape of Things to Come, Desmond’s From the Hot Afternoon, and Hubbard’s First Light.