“Jeff is one of the few arrangers who can write swing for a symphony orchestra that classically-trained musicians love playing.”
I was born in Queens, NY, and studied the clarinet with Augustin Duques and composition with Lothar Perl. I earned my B.A. in Music from Queens College (CUNY); my principal teachers were Carlos Surinach and Roger Nierenberg (conducting) and John Carisi (composition and arranging). But my most important teacher/student relationship was with arranger/conductor Jerry Graff. Over a thirty-five year period, I transitioned from eager observer and student to trusted colleague and family member, orchestrating some of his last arrangements and producing his last recordings.
I was an editor/arranger with Warner Brothers Publications for over seventeen years, and worked directly with John Williams, Henry Mancini, Joe Raposo, Lieber and Stoller, Gordon Lightfoot, Chick Corea, Burton Lane, Burt Bacharach and many other composers to prepare their music for print. As an editor, I edited and annotated four Gershwin scores issued in facsimile editions, and edited “Arranged by Nelson Riddle,” Riddle’s textbook on arranging. I also corrected hundreds of piano/vocal publications of the songs of Gershwin, Porter, Rodgers & Hart, and many other legendary composers of the mid-twentieth century, as well as arranging hundreds of these songs for various instrumental and vocal combinations, many of which are still in print (to my embarrassment in some cases, as some have errors).
When WB moved its print operation to Florida, I opted to stay in New York. From 1994-2002, I was an editor and consultant with the Hal Leonard Corporation, where I worked with Sonny Rollins, Ahmad Jamal, Andy LaVerne, Benny Green, Billy Childs and Gerry Mulligan, producing the last recordings of Mulligan as a baritone saxophonist. From 2002-2005, I was assistant professor of music at Five Towns College, arranging for and coaching singers, conducting the jazz ensemble and teaching courses on the music business, music history and film music on the Bachelors and Master degree levels. From 2013 until the school’s closing in 2017, I was a member of the faculty of the Institute of Audio Research, where I was Administrative Coordinator of the Music Business program and Learning Resource System Administrator. I assisted in re-designing the Music Business (MEMP) Program, created a curriculum for a proposed A.A. degree, and was also a student adviser.
I was one of the first editors who championed researched and corrected vintage big band, orchestral and combo music for use by historians, educators and students; these scores are now used in Masters and Doctoral programs around the world. Perhaps the most well-known projects I worked on in this area included a folio of the Miles Davis Nonet repertoire (The Birth of the Cool), published by Hal Leonard Corporation (an in-depth article about this folio has been published by the Journal of Jazz Studies [Rutgers University] and may be found here: jjs.libraries.rutgers.edu/index.php/jjs/article/view/14), and over 50 pieces composed and/or arranged by legendary Canadian composer Robert Farnon with the composer’s participation and approval. I have been editor/consultant at Jazz Lines Publications almost since the company’s founding, where Rob DuBoff, Dylan Canterberry and I have prepared many hundreds of publications for print from the libraries of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Dean Martin, Duke Ellington, Don Redman, Fletcher Henderson, Gil Evans, Nelson Riddle, Bob Florence, Rob McConnell, Marty Paich, Thad Jones, Manny Albam, Billy Byers, Dean Martin, Mary Lou Williams, Benny Carter, and many, many other artists and creators of music, 99% of them from original scores and/or parts.
I have edited textbooks and Teacher Guides for numerous clients, most recently for award winners Randy Klein (three books on Songwriting) and Richard Sussman and Michael Abene (Jazz Composition and Arranging in the Digital Age, published by Oxford University Press).
My book “Experiencing Big Band Jazz: A Listener’s Companion” (Rowman & Littlefield) was issued in November, 2017, and promptly sold out its first printing within two months; it has been acclaimed in Social Media and in the jazz press, and has generated a Facebook page not only to furnish updates, but creating a forum for numerous contributions from historians and writers (a televised interview about the book may be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIJL00o9gBY. My articles on music and film history have appeared on jazz.com., Ethan Iverson’s blog Do the Math, and Doug Ramsey’s blog “Rifftides.” I was the only writer who contributed two articles to The Oxford Companion to Jazz (Oxford Univ. Press). Please see the separate page on this website for further information. I wrote the notes for the Mosaic Boxed set “The Complete Woody Herman Decca, Mars and MGM Sessions (1943-1954) in 2019. I have a Substack blog entitled “The Eclectic’s Corner: About the Arts.”
As an arranger, I have been fortunate to have written for incredible performers and artists such as Gene Lees/Roger Kellaway, Lynn Roberts, Ellen Gould, and the Palm Beach Pops, as well as school ensembles throughout the United States; my compositions and arrangements are published or distributed by Walrus Music.
It was Roger Nierenberg who told me that I should pursue a career as a symphonic conductor, and I’ve worked with student and professional orchestras, wind ensembles, vocal groups and jazz ensembles all over the United States. I’ve had wonderful experiences lecturing at Rutgers University, (Institute of Jazz Studies), Queens College, George Washington University (The Felix Grant Archive), The New School for Social Research, and the 2011 and 2020 JEN Conventions.
In 2018, I received an M.A. degree from Seton Hall University (GRAL/School Library Media Specialist Cert.), and taught in the Paterson Public Schools for several years. In 2019, I returned to Five Towns College as an assistant professor, teaching history and music business courses, and once again leading the jazz ensemble.
A C.V. is available upon request.