Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bill Finegan, RIP

This week the Jim Flora online mafia (which I suppose I qualify for membership in) marked the passing of Bill Finegan, an arranger’s arranger and the co-leader of the under-appreciated Sauter-Finegan Orchestra (check out J.D. King and the Jim Flora blog for more information). During its five year run, the band recorded for the RCA labels, which is how Flora’s distinctive art came to grace their covers.

Finegan made a reputation selling arrangements to Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey, two bandleaders who were dependent on quality arrangers to maintain their romantic and sentimental sounds. His future partner Eddie Sauter’s resume included work with Benny Goodman and Red Norvo. Together they created a distinctive big band sound, lauded for its aural colors and textures.

After disbanding, Sauter maintained the higher music profile. He is probably best remembered by jazz fans for his work on two classic Stan Getz albums, Focus and the Mickey One soundtrack. Finegan did contribute charts to Holiday with Mulligan, the only recorded collaboration between Gerry Mulligan and vocalist Judy Holiday, before her premature death from cancer. Released almost twenty years after her death, it is an overlooked minor classic, unfairly dismissed by the cynical, because Mulligan and Holiday were involved at the time (no Flora cover though). Bill Finegan 1917-2008.