Marty Paich was a pianist, composer, arranger, producer, music director, and conductor. In a career which spanned half a century, he worked in these capacities for such artists as Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Sarah Vaughan, Stan Kenton, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Tormé, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstadt, Stan Getz, Sammy Davis Jr, Michael Jackson, Art Pepper, and a hundred others.

However, his name is essentially unknown outside professional circles. He took little interest in self-promotion, never acquired a personal agent, happily saw his business affairs managed by his capable first wife Huddy, and as soon as finances permitted decamped Los Angeles for a ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley north of Santa Barbara. There he engaged his twin fantasies of riding horses and operating a private museum devoted to the saddles, books, rifles and guns of the American west. For a boy raised in urban Oakland California, this was a charmed leap.

He was born Martin Louis Paich on 23 January 1925. His earliest music lessons were on the accordion, and thereafter on the piano. By age 10 he had formed the first of numerous bands, and by age 12 was regularly playing at weddings and similar affairs. Marty first attended Cole Elementary School in Oakland. After graduating from McClymonds High School he attended a series of professional schools in music, including Chapman College, San Francisco State University, the University of Southern California, and the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music where he graduated (1951) magna cum laude with a Master's degree in composition.

His private teachers included Mario Castelnuevo-Tedesco (studying in his home at 269 South Clark, in Beverly Hills) and Arnold Schoenberg. The Gary Nottingham Orchestra provided his earliest paying work as arranger; together with Pete Rugulo he wrote some of that band's best-known charts. Paich served in the US Air Corps during World War II, there leading various bands and orchestras and helping build troop morale.

From the beginning of his professional career, he also learned music in the time-honored ways: he transcribed countless tunes and charts from recordings, he attended innumerable concerts, and he sat-in on a thousand jams. And from the beginning Paich had an extraordinary ear for style, and tremendously eclectic taste. These gifts would serve him well in his career and provide the opportunity to work in an amazingly large circle of musicians.

After finishing his formal studies, Paich took a series of jobs in the Los Angeles music and recording industry. These included arranging (and playing) the score for the Disney Studio's full length cartoon film The Lady and The Tramp, working as accompanist for vocalist Peggy Lee, playing piano for the Shorty Rogers' Giants, touring with Dorothy Dandridge, and providing arrangements for many local bands in Los Angeles.

During the 1950's, Paich was active in West Coast Jazz performance while also working intensively in the studios. He not only played on, but arranged and produced, numerous West Coast jazz recordings, including albums by Ray Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Terry Gibbs, Stan Kenton, Shelley Manne, Anita O'Day, Dave Pell, Art Pepper, Buddy Rich, Shorty Rogers, and Mel Tormé. His professional and personal association with Tormé, though occasionally a difficult one, would last decades. Many jazz critics feel their work with the Marty Paich Dektette to be the high point of their respective careers.

In the 1960s, he became more active in commercial music, and extended his talents to include work for such pop musicians as Andy Williams, Al Hirt, Dinah Shore, Jack Jones, and others of that style. From the late 1960s into the mid-1970s, Paich was the studio orchestra leader for such television variety shows as The Glen Campbell Good-Time Hour, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (where he replaced Nelson Riddle), and The Sonny and Cher Show. He also scored such television programs as Ironside, for which he won an Emmy Award. At this time he began serving as teacher and life-long mentor to his son David, soon to make his own reputation with the band Toto, and to become a distinguished musician in his own right.

Marty Paich's work in the 1980s to 1990s built on his long-standing reputation as an artist of wide stylistic gifts, particularly in scoring for strings (he was often hired to 'sweeten' the work of other arrangers), and he received calls to work for musicians ranging from Barbra Streisand to Michael Jackson. During the same period he became active in film, often working as conductor (and on-site arranger) in a number of well-received studio projects. These films, usually scored by his student James Newton Howard, included Flatliners, For The Boys, Grand Canyon, The Package, Pretty Woman, and Prince of Tides.

In 1991 he was honored at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion by Singers' Salute to the Songwriter, Inc., and there received the title 'Songwriter of the Year'. He also led the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl in what would be one of Sarah Vaughan's last public appearances. In this latter period he announced a semi-retirement to his beloved ranch on Baseline Road in Santa Ynez. From this domain he worked on occasional projects, the last of which was with Aretha Franklin. He died of colon cancer on 12 August 1995, at home, surrounded by his family. Those with him at the end included his brother Tom, second wife Linda, children David and Lorrie, their children, and friends Bea, Ruth, Neal and Charles.

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