Gordon Jenkins (May 12, 1910 – May 1, 1984) was an American arranger, composer and pianist who was an influential figure in popular music in the 1940s and 1950s, renowned for his lush string arrangements. Jenkins worked with the Andrews Sisters, Johnny Cash, The Weavers, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Harry Nilsson, and Ella Fitzgerald, among others.
Gordon Jenkins was born Gordon Hill Jenkins in Webster Groves, Missouri on May 12, 1910, the son of a movie theatre organist. While still a child, he would sometimes play the organ at the theatre, accompanying his father.. Later, during Prohibition, he was the piano player in a St. Louis speakeasy. In the early 1930's, he was hired bu a St. Louis radio station where he played banjo and piano. He was then hired by Isham Jones to play the piano and write arrangements for Jones's band. When the band was taken over by Woody Herman in 1936, Jenkins continued as the band's arranger. During this period, he also wrote arrangements for Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman,and Andre Kostelanetz.
In 1938, he moved to California, where he worked for Paramount Pictures. In 1939 he became music director forNBC's Hollywood based west coast division. From 1944 to 1948, he worked on Dick Haymes' radio show. In 1945, he became a staff conductor for Decca Records. Jenkins soon became Decca's musical director, and was responsible for bringing The Weavers (a group that included Pete Seger among it's members) to Decca.
When he went to Decca, he also began recording successfully under his own name. He headlined New York's Capitol Theatre between 1949 and 1951 and the Paramount Theatre in 1952. He appeared in Las Vegas in 1953 and many times theresfter. He worked for NBC TV as a producer from 1955 to 1957, and performed at the Hollywood Bowl in 1964.
In 1957 he arrranged and conducted one of Nat King Cole's finest albums, Love Is The Thing. He worked extensivelywith Frank Sinatra, notably as arranger and conductor of the 1957 album Where Are You? and the 1959 album No One Cares. Jenkins arrangements also contributrd significantly to the careers of Judy Garland and Peggy Lee. He also had an important success with his own mini-musical, Manhattan Tower. He also worked frequently with lyricists Tom Adair and Johnny Mercer.
Here's "Begin The Beguine" from above album.
However, as rock and roll gained ascendancy in the 1960s, Jenkins' lush string arrangements fell out of favor and he worked only sporadically. However, Sinatra, who had left Capitol to start his own label, Reprise Records, continued to call upon the arranger's services at various intervals over the next two decades, on albums such as All Alone (1962), September of My Years (1965), for which Jenkins won a Grammy, Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back (1973), and She Shot Me Down (1981). The latter is regarded by many "Sinatraphiles" as the singer's last great work. Jenkins also worked with Harry Nilsson, arranging and conducting A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night (1973), an album of jazz standards. The Nilsson sessions, with Jenkins conducting, were recorded on video and later broadcast as a television special by the BBC.
Toward the end of his life, he was in a near-fatal automobile accident, which left him severely debilitated. But towards the end he rallied himself for work, conducting a full orchestra for a recording session, despite his pain. His daughter Susan proudly related to friends of what that moment meant to her father, and that he was never happier than when he was before a gathering of his fellow musicians. A fitting and beautiful coda to a man dedicated to his art.
Gordon Jenkins died in Malibu, California on April 24, 1984 of amyotrophic lateral scierosis (Lou Gerhig's disease). (Information from Songwriters Hall Of Fame & Wikipedia)