Stanley Black

Stanley Black was one of the most prolific and eclectic British bandleaders of the postwar era, appearing almost daily on BBC radio and recording dozens of LPs and film scores in a vast array of styles. Born in London on June 14, 1913, Black began studying piano at the age of seven under the tutelage of Rae Robinson; he went on to attend the Mathay School of Music, and was just 12 when the BBC Symphony Orchestra performed one of his original compositions (a distinction he earned by winning a contest in Melody Maker). By age 18, Black was touring with bandleader Maurice Burman, in the years to follow working with British jazz luminaries including Howard Jacobs, Joe Orlando, Lew Stone, and Teddy Joyce. He also played alongside visiting American greats like Benny Carter, and even recorded a version of "Honeysuckle Rose" with the legendary Coleman Hawkins. In 1936 Black signed on with bandleader Harry Roy, remaining with his group for four years, including a 1937 South American tour that introduced him to Latin American music, a tradition his work regularly celebrated in the years to follow. During this time, he also took his first stab at writing for cinema, contributing to the score of the film Rhythm Racketeers. After serving in World War II, Black returned to London in 1944 and was appointed conductor of the BBC Dance Orchestra, broadcasting as many as six performances a week for nine years and regularly topping Melody Maker's lists of radio's most-heard musicians. With the dawn of long-playing records, he also began recording for Decca, releasing as many as four albums per year as a headliner (several of which are much prized by today's connoisseurs of space age pop, in particular the Exotic Percussion album), in addition to playing countless other backing sessions. On top of all this he also scored films -- some 200 total over the course of his career -- including 1948's It Always Rains on Sunday, 1951's Laughter in Paradise, and 1957's The Naked Truth. In 1952, Black left the BBC to join Decca as a full-time staff conductor and arranger, and in 1958 he was appointed music director at Elstree Studios, where he scored the Cliff Richard musicals The Young Ones and Summer Holiday. Black won a Gramophone Award in 1965 for his version of Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol, and went on to conduct most of Britain's major orchestras. Despite the gradual loss of his hearing, he continued directing broadcasts at the BBCs Maida Vale studios into the 1990s. He died in London on November 27, 2002.
Jason Ankeny, Rovi