A jazz baritone saxophone player who eventually put the instrument down in favour of a long and respected career as an arranger, writer, and teacher.
He became interested in jazz on hearing Bix Beiderbecke and at sixteen dropped out of school to play for Dixieland trumpeter-leader Muggsy Spanier, but it was his membership in a group led by Georgie Auld that turned Albam's career around.
The Auld group included saxophonist Budd Johnson, then a primary arranger for the group, and Johnson mentored Albam as an arranger.
By 1950, Albam had put down his baritone sax and began to concentrate strictly on arranging, writing.
He became known for his work for forward-looking bandleaders Charlie Barnet and Charlie Spivak, before moving forward to collaborate with jazzmen as varied as Count Basie, Stan Getz, Bob Brookmeyer (who frequently appeared on Albam's own albums as a leader.
Albam also found an entree into the classical music world when he arranged Leonard Bernstein's score for West Side Story in 1957.
By 1964, Albam became musical director for the Solid State Records (jazz label).
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