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George Handy

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One of the most advanced arrangers of the mid-1940s, George Handy's radical charts gave the Boyd Raeburn Orchestra its musical personality while also probably making it impossible for the big band to work steadily. He originally learned piano from his mother but later studied at Julliard, New York University, and with Aaron Copland. Handy played with Raymond Scott in 1941 but made his reputation with Raeburn (1944-1946), whose orchestra he turned from a dance band into an ensemble more advanced in its own way than Stan Kenton's. "Tonsillectomy" and "Dalvatore Sally" were two of Handy's more notable (or infamous) originals but even his arrangements of standards (such as "Body and Soul" and "Temptation") that featured singers David Allyn and Ginnie Powell were quite dissonant and full of surprising explosions. Unfortunately, a personality conflict resulted in Handy only being with Raeburn for a little less than two years. Although he wrote for other bands (including those of Alvino Rey, Ina Ray Hutton, and Herbie Fields) and spent time working in the studios, Handy ended up being quite obscure. He was pianist with Zoot Sims' combo during 1956-1957 but mostly worked outside of jazz during his last four decades, although he did spend some time as a Down Beat critic during the latter half of the '60s. As a leader, George Handy was captured privately on six numbers with a quartet in 1945 (released by Onyx), made two studio sides with the Vivien Garry Trio (for Studio & Art in 1945), recorded a specially commissioned piece for Norman Granz in 1946 ("The Bloos"), and headed two little-known albums during 1954-1955 for the RCA subsidiary X. ~ Scott Yanow

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Birth Name:

George Joseph Hendleman


17 January 1920 in New York, NY

Years Active:


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