Johnny Mandel

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Johnny Mandel
Birth nameJohn Alfred Mandel
Born (1925-11-23) November 23, 1925 (age 93)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Genres Pop, film music, jazz
Occupation(s) Composer, arranger
Years active1938–present
Associated acts Woody Herman, Count Basie

John Alfred Mandel (born November 23, 1925) is an American composer and arranger of popular songs, film music and jazz. Among the musicians he has worked with are Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Anita O'Day, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Diane Schuur and Shirley Horn.

Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States. It originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as "America's classical music". Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as "one of America's original art forms".

Count Basie American jazz musician, bandleader, and composer

William James "Count" Basie was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer. In 1935, Basie formed his own jazz orchestra, the Count Basie Orchestra, and in 1936 took them to Chicago for a long engagement and their first recording. He led the group for almost 50 years, creating innovations like the use of two "split" tenor saxophones, emphasizing the rhythm section, riffing with a big band, using arrangers to broaden their sound, and others. Many musicians came to prominence under his direction, including the tenor saxophonists Lester Young and Herschel Evans, the guitarist Freddie Green, trumpeters Buck Clayton and Harry "Sweets" Edison and singers Jimmy Rushing, Helen Humes, Thelma Carpenter, and Joe Williams.

Frank Sinatra American singer, actor, and producer

Francis Albert Sinatra was an American singer, actor and producer who was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the 20th century. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide.


Mandel has composed, conducted and arranged the music for numerous movie sound tracks. His earliest credited contribution was to I Want to Live! in 1958, which was nominated for a Grammy.

<i>I Want to Live!</i> 1958 film noir by Robert Wise

I Want to Live! is a 1958 film noir written by Nelson Gidding and Don Mankiewicz, produced by Walter Wanger, and directed by Robert Wise, which tells the true story of a woman, Barbara Graham, an habitual criminal convicted of murder and facing execution. It stars Susan Hayward as Graham, and also features Simon Oakland, Stafford Repp, and Theodore Bikel. The movie was adapted from letters written by Graham and newspaper articles written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ed Montgomery. It presents a somewhat fictionalized version of the case showing a possibility of innocence concerning Graham. Today, the charge would be known as felony murder.

Mandel's most famous compositions include "Suicide Is Painless" (theme from the movie and TV series M*A*S*H ), "Close Enough for Love", "Emily" and "A Time for Love" (nominated for an Academy Award). He has written numerous film scores, including the score of The Sandpiper . The love theme for that film, "The Shadow of Your Smile", which he co-wrote with Paul Francis Webster, won the 1965 Academy Award for Best Original Song and the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1966.

Suicide Is Painless theme song of M*A*S*H film & TV series

Suicide Is Painless is a song written by Johnny Mandel (music) and Michael Altman (lyrics). It was the theme song for both the movie and TV series M*A*S*H. Mike Altman was 14 years old when he wrote the song’s lyrics.

"Close Enough for Love" was the theme song from the 1979 film Agatha starring Dustin Hoffman and Vanessa Redgrave. The song has since become a jazz standard. It was composed by Johnny Mandel with lyrics by Paul Williams.

"Emily" is a popular song composed by Johnny Mandel, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer. It was the title song to the 1964 film The Americanization of Emily. It has since been recorded by numerous artists, notably Bill Evans and Tony Bennett.


He studied at the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard School. In 1943 he played the trumpet with Joe Venuti, in 1944 with Billy Rogers and trombone in the bands of Boyd Raeburn, Jimmy Dorsey, Buddy Rich, Georgie Auld and Chubby Jackson. In 1949 he accompanied the singer June Christy in the orchestra of Bob Cooper. From 1951 until 1953 he played and arranged music in Elliot Lawrence's orchestra, and in 1953 with Count Basie. Later he resided in Los Angeles, where he played the bass trumpet for Zoot Sims.

Manhattan School of Music music school in New York City

Manhattan School of Music (MSM) is a private music conservatory in New York City. The school offers bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in the areas of classical and jazz performance and composition, as well as a bachelors in musical theatre.

Joe Venuti jazz violinist

Giuseppe "Joe" Venuti was an Italian-American jazz musician and pioneer jazz violinist.

Trombone Type of brass instrument

The trombone is a musical instrument in the brass family. As on all brass instruments, sound is produced when the player's vibrating lips (embouchure) cause the air column inside the instrument to vibrate. Nearly all trombones have a telescoping slide mechanism that varies the length of the instrument to change the pitch. Many modern trombone models also use a valve attachment to lower the pitch of the instrument. Variants such as the valve trombone and superbone have three valves similar to those on the trumpet.

A 1944 Band graduate of New York Military Academy, in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York, he wrote jazz compositions including "Not Really the Blues" for Woody Herman in 1949, "Hershey Bar" (1950) and "Pot Luck" (1953) for Stan Getz, "Straight Life" (1953) and "Low Life" (1956) for Count Basie, as well as "Tommyhawk" (1954) for Chet Baker.

New York Military Academy

New York Military Academy (NYMA) is a college prep, co-ed boarding school in the rural town of Cornwall, 60 miles (97 km) north of New York City, and one of the oldest military schools in the United States. Originally a boys' school, it started admitting girls in 1975. On March 3, 2015, NYMA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and was sold at auction to Chinese-owned foundation Research Center on Natural Conservation Inc. which reopened the school in November 2015. The Research Center then poured millions of dollars into the campus to support instruction and capital improvements. The campus also has been host to popular camps like Camp All America into the 1980s and currently the NYMA Leadership Program.

Woody Herman American clarinetist

Woodrow Charles Herman was an American jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, singer, and big band leader. Leading various groups called "The Herd", Herman came to prominence in the late 1930s and was active until his death in 1987. His bands often played music that was cutting edge and experimental for its time; they received numerous Grammy nominations and awards.

Stan Getz American jazz saxophonist

Stan Getz was an American jazz saxophonist. Playing primarily the tenor saxophone, Getz was known as "The Sound" because of his warm, lyrical tone, his prime influence being the wispy, mellow timbre of his idol, Lester Young. Coming to prominence in the late 1940s with Woody Herman's big band, Getz is described by critic Scott Yanow as "one of the all-time great tenor saxophonists". Getz performed in bebop and cool jazz groups. Influenced by João Gilberto and Antônio Carlos Jobim, he popularized bossa nova in America with the hit single "The Girl from Ipanema" (1964).

He performed an interpretation of Erik Satie's "Gnossiennes #4 and #5" on the piano for the 1979 film Being There .

Erik Satie French composer and pianist

Éric Alfred Leslie Satie, who signed his name Erik Satie after 1884, was a French composer and pianist. Satie was an influential artist in the late 19th- and early 20th-century Parisian avant-garde. His work was a precursor to later artistic movements such as minimalism, repetitive music, and the Theatre of the Absurd.

<i>Gnossiennes</i> composition by Erik Satie

The Gnossiennes are several piano compositions written by the French composer Erik Satie in the late 19th century. The works are for the most part in free time and highly experimental with form, rhythm and chordal structure. The form as well as the term was invented by Satie.

<i>Being There</i> 1979 film by Hal Ashby

Being There is a 1979 American comedy-drama film directed by Hal Ashby. Based on the 1970 novel of the same name by Jerzy Kosiński, it was adapted for the screen by Kosiński and the uncredited Robert C. Jones. The film stars Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine, and features Jack Warden, Melvyn Douglas, Richard Dysart, and Richard Basehart.

He won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s) in 1981 for Quincy Jones's song Velas, and again in 1991 for Natalie Cole and Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable", and one year later once more for Shirley Horn's album Here's to Life .

In 2004, Mandel arranged Tony Bennett's album The Art of Romance . Bennett and Mandel had collaborated before on Bennett's The Movie Song Album (1966), for which Mandel arranged and conducted his songs "Emily" and "The Shadow of Your Smile", and was also the album's musical director.


John Alfred Mandel was born in New York on November 23, 1925. [1] His parents were Alfred, a garment manufacturer, and Hannah, an opera singer, who discovered her son had perfect pitch at the age of five. [2] Mandel was subsequently given piano lessons, but switched to the trumpet and later the trombone. [2]

Mandel married Lois Lee in 1959, [3] and Martha Blanner in 1972, [4] and has a daughter, Marissa, born in 1976. [5] Mandel is also the cousin of the late fellow film composer, Miles Goodman. [6] [7]


Mandel received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music in 1993.

Mandel is a recipient of the 2011 NEA Jazz Masters Award. [8]

Mandel's most recent project is a CD called Johnny Mandel, A Man and His Music, featuring The DIVA Jazz Orchestra and vocalist Ann Hampton Callaway, recorded live at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in May 2010, released by Arbors Records in March 2011. [9]

Selected works




Johnny Mandel composed and/or arranged music for the following motion pictures or television programs:


See also

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  1. Strunk, Steven (2003), Mandel, Johnny [John Alfred], Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.J286900
  2. 1 2 Aswad, Jem. "ASCAP Henry Mancini Award Honoring Johnny Mandel". Archived from the original on April 10, 2012. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  3. California, Marriage Index, 1949–1959, a subscription site. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  4. California, Marriage Index, 1960–1985, a subscription site. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  5. Contemporary Musicians: Profiles of the People in Music. 28. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale. 2000. ISBN   978-0787632533.
  6. "Miles Goodman, 47, Composer for Films". The New York Times . August 20, 1996. Retrieved May 1, 2015.
  7. Jablon, Robert (August 18, 1996). "Miles Goodman, Film Composer and Jazz Record Producer, Dies". Associated Press . Retrieved May 1, 2015.
  8. National Endowment for the Arts (January 4, 2011). "National Endowment for the Arts Announces Live Webcast of 2011 NEA Jazz Masters Awards Ceremony & Concert on January 11, 2011". Washington: National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved February 19, 2014.
  9. DIVA: Sherrie Maricle. Retrieved February 10, 2014.