Pete Rugolo has died in Los Angeles at the age of 95. Rugolo’s composing and arranging, particularly for the Stan Kenton Orchestra, had much to do in the 1940s and ‘50s with the creation of what came to be called progressive jazz. As a discoverer of talent and as a producer, he was responsible for recording a number of artists including Peggy Lee and Mel Tormé. He produced the seminally influential Miles Davis Birth of the Cool sessions of 1949 and ’50. Later, Rugolo led a band of his own and composed theme music for several successful television series, among them The Thin Man, The Fugitive and Run For Your Life. For today’s Los Angeles Times obituary, go here.
Rugolo’s 1951 arrangement of “Love For Sale” for demonstrates the craftsmanship and sense of drama that underlay his work for Kenton.
Here is Rugolo’s theme for The Fugitive, the series starring Richard Janssen that aired on ABC television from 1963 to 1967.
Composer, arranger, historian and big band scholar Jeff Sultanof is preparing for Rifftides an essay putting in perspective Rugolo’s career and contributions.