Don Sebesky

The Strings of Don Sebesky

Often, there is a tendency to overlook the background dynamics that go into producing commercial music. Don Sebesky is the genius, which for many years arranged the orchestral backgrounds for many of the giants that performed under the Creed Taylor Jazz Label. Wes Montgomery, Freddie Hubbard, and George Benson are just a few of the names that most readily come to mind. The task of Don Sebesky was to make these jazz artists more accessible to audiences beyond the mainstream jazz idiom.

He did his job well. Check out the discography of any of the above artists, and you'll find his handiwork screaming for recognition. Wes Montgomery moved the world with his rendition of the Beatles hit tune, A Day In The Life. Don Sebesky's string section was superb, and it brought a whole generation to a new level of awareness. George Benson became a household name with the backup of Don Sebesky's brilliant string section, as did Freddie Hubbard in the crossover LP "First Light". It gave the world a chance to discover these talented artists in the mainstream light. This more than anything is the crowning achievement behind his background work.

Don started out playing the trombone. Of course, the trombone is no easy instrument to play, and very few people have mastered it to achieve a level of greatness. This is perhaps why Don Sebesky eventually found his niche in arranging for others. A thorough study and versed in jazz, classical, rock, big band, and ethnic music; Sebesky was the perfect choice to head up the arranging department at Creed Taylor for so many years. He had something for everyone, and it's a credit to the Label that they recognized the talent.

A quiet personality, Don was all business when it came to music. He was the one man who perhaps did his homework more than anyone else. He knew the nuances of every musician he worked with. His expertise combined with his likeable personality, earned him tremendous respect and credibility with those he helped to usher into greatness. The man simply made whatever was played sound better. This is greatness all by itself.

Make sure you check out his superb work on such albums such as "First Light", "Bumpin'", and "The Shape of Things to Come". Also on his repertoire are some excellent classical works. Make sure at some point in time you buy his book, "The Contemporary Arranger". This was written in 1975, but the timeless revelations of talent never grow old.

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