The Music of Billy May: A Discography

Front Cover
Greenwood Press, 1998 - Music - 529 pages

Billy May was a self-taught musician and arranger. In 1938, he received his first big break arranging and playing trumpet; first, for the Charlie Barnet band, and in 1940, the band of Glenn Miller. Settling in Hollywood in 1943, his first of many big breaks in radio was playing in Ozzie Nelson's band for the Red Skelton Show. Shortly thereafter, May was asked by Nelson to be musical director to his new show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. He was also fortunate to play in the orchestra and write arrangements for John Scott Trotter on Bing Crosby's Kraft Music Hall. Billy May's earliest collaboration with Frank Sinatra produced Don't Fence Me In for broadcast on December 23, 1944. Capitol Records paired Billy May and Alan Livingston to initiate a series of children's recordings with arrangements and compositions such as Bozo the Clown and the exceedingly popular I Taut I Taw a Putty Tat. As a band leader and arranger, his signature included the prominent saxophone section glissando (sliding, or slurping) effect, and highly imaginative arrangements. His last great project was the documentation on record of swing era music, commissioned by Time-Life, and completed in 1973.

The discography covers Billy May as arranger and composer from 1944-1998, as sideman and arranger for others, his work on radio, television, movies, and international appearances, his road band, recordings, both domestic and foreign, and his transcriptions. Data is cross-indexed by song title and artist.

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Sideman and Arranger for Others
Radio Film Television and International Appearances

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About the author (1998)

JACK MIRTLE is a musician and graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, London, and the University of Calgary, Alberta. He belongs to the American Federation of Musicians, the International Trumpet Guild, and the Big Band Academy of America, and is the author of Thank You Music Lovers: A Bio-Discography of Spike Jones and His City Slickers, 1941-1965 (Greenwood, 1986).

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