Retake: Tom Talbert

Lately, I’ve been missing Tom Talbert. I went into the archive to see what Rifftides had to say about him following his death a little more than three years ago. Here is one paragraph of the remembrance:

Talbert.jpgTom died on Saturday, a month short of his eighty-first birthday. An elegant, soft-spoken man, he was an early and drastically overlooked composer, arranger and band leader on the west coast before West Coast Jazz was a category. His mid-to-late-1940s Los Angeles bands included Lucky Thompson, Dodo Marmarosa, Hal McKusick, Al Killian, Art Pepper, Claude Williamson and other musicians who were or went on to become leading soloists. Talbert’s writing for large ensembles was ingenious and subtle. The best of it, “Is Is Not Is,” as an example, rivaled George Handy’s iconoclastic work for the Boyd Raeburn band. The recordings Talbert made shortly after World War Two sound fresh today. Art Pepper fell in love with Tom’s treatment of “Over the Rainbow” and adopted the song as his signature tune.

To read the whole thing, go here. Then, see what the distinguished critic Larry Kart had to say about Talbert. To read more about Tom Talbert and hear excerpts from the National Public Radio Jazz Profiles program about him, click here.

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  1. Gordon Sapsed says

    Thank you for making today, for me, a Tom Talbert Day. With too many CDs and too many books I’ll never open – a pointer from you helps me to focus.

  2. Bert Hellsten says

    Having just discovered Tom Talbert as one of a few select big band innovators I’m delighted to read that he was also such a nice man. I hate to think that he will be forgotten.