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Claude Thornhill

Although some of his recordings were on the periphery of jazz and his orchestra was at its most popular in the early '40s, Claude Thornhill's main importance to jazz was the influence that his arrangements and orchestra's sound had on cool jazz of the late '40s. After studying at a music conservatory and playing piano in bands based in the Midwest, Thornhill worked for Paul Whiteman and Benny Goodman in 1934, and for Ray Noble's American band of 1935-1936 (for whom he also arranged). He appeared on some Billie Holiday records and his arrangement of "Loch Lomond" was a big hit for Maxine Sullivan. Although he recorded as a leader in 1937, it was in 1940 that Thornhill put together his own orchestra. The band, featuring long tones played by horns that de-emphasized vibrato, had an unusual sound that sometimes accompanied the leader's tinkling piano. The instrumentation included two French horns and a tuba; sometimes all six of the reeds played clarinets in unison. Although classified by some as a sweet rather than swing band (since the group played a lot of ballads), with the addition in 1941 of Gil Evans as one of the arrangers, the recordings of Thornhill's orchestra attracted a lot of attention in the jazz world.

After a period in the miliary (1942-1945), Thornhill put together a new orchestra, retaining the services of Gil Evans (and sometimes using Gerry Mulligan charts as well) and featuring such soloists as altoist Lee Konitz, clarinetist Danny Polo, and trumpeter Red Rodney. Some of Evans' bop-ish arrangements for the group were classic, and the Miles Davis Nonet of 1948 was based on many of the cool-toned principles of the Thornhill big band. However, by then the pianist's glory days were over. He continued leading bands on a part-time basis up until his death, but Claude Thornhill was largely neglected and forgotten during his final 15 years. ~ Scott Yanow
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Jazz Piano Greats - Claude Thornhill

1. Yardbird Suite

2. La Paloma (Grey Dove) (Take 1)

3. Thrivin' On A Riff (Take 1)

4. Lover Man

5. Arab Dance

6. Buster's Last Stand

7. The Doll Dance

8. Donna Lee

9. Whip-Poor-Will

10. Early Autumn

11. Thrivin' On A Riff Take 2

12. Anthropology

13. For Heaven's Sakes

14. Hungarian Dance No. 5

15. A Sunday Kind Of Love

16. Potrait Of A Guinea Farm

17. Loch Lomond

18. I Don't Know Why

19. There's A Small Hotel

20. I Get The Blues When It Rains

21. Under The Willow Tree

22. I Knew You When

23. Let's Call It A Day

24. O Sole Mio (My Sunshine)

25. Polka Dots And Moonbeams

26. Robbin's Nest

27. Snowfall

28. Sorta Kinda

29. Stop! You're Breaking My Heart

30. Träumerei (Dreaming)

31. La Paloma (Grey Dove) (Take 3)

32. Where Or When

33. Smiles

34. Autumn Nocturn

x

Track List: 1941-1946-1947

1. Snowfall #1

2. Portrait Of A Guinea Farm

3. As Long As I'm Dreaming (Feat. Fran Warren)

4. Hungarian Dance Number Five

5. The Things I Love (Feat. Dick Harding)

6. Le Papillon

7. Early Autumn

8. La Cinquantaine

9. I Get The Blues When It Rains

10. Stack O'barley

11. Traumerie

12. Sorta Kinda

13. A Sunday Kind Of Love (Feat. Fran Warren)

14. Rustle Of Spring

15. I Went Out Of My Way (Feat. Dick Harding)

16. O Sole Mio

17. Snowfall #2

x

Track List: Big Band Series Volume 2

1. Pop Goes The Weasel

2. Isn't It Wonderful

3. Lodge Podge

4. I Found You In The Rain

5. Medley: I'll Get By / That's My Desire / Stella By Starlight

6. Autumn Nocturn

7. Guess I'll Get The Papers And Go Home

8. Love Tales

9. If You Were The Only Girl

10. Adios

x

Track List: Big Band Series / Original Recording Volume 1

1. Lullaby Of The Rain

2. I'm Thrilled

3. Jim

4. Tonight We Love

5. Humoresque

6. Underneath The Willow Tree

7. Warsaw Concerto

8. Twilight Song

9. Alt Wien

10. People Like You

x

Track List: Buster's Last Stand

2. Humoresque

4. Pop Goes The Weasel

5. Stack Of Barley

6. Where Has My Little Dog Gone

7. Traumerei

8. I'm Thrilled

9. Something To Remember You By

10. Night And Day

13. She'll Always Remember

14. Count Me In

16. I'm Getting Tired So I Can Sleep

17. Buster's Last Stand

18. Lullabye Of The Rain

20. There's A Small Hotel

22. I Don't Know Why

24. Stealin' Apples

x

Track List: 1947-Transcription Performance

1. Robbin's Nest

2. Don't Call It Love

3. I Knew You When

4. Love For Love

5. Polka Dots And Moonbeams

6. Anthropology

7. Early Autumn

8. I Get The Blues When It Rains

9. Snowfall

10. Oh You Beautiful Doll

11. I Remember Mama

12. Sorta Kinda

13. Cabin In The Sky

14. My Old Flame

15. At Sundown

16. The Happy Stranger

17. For Heaven's Sake

18. Lover Man

19. Sunday Driving

20. I May Be Wrong

21. Poor Little Rich Girl

22. Butterfly (Papillon)

23. Sometimes I'm Happy

24. Hang Out The Stars In Indiana

25. Donna Lee

26. Puttin' And A Takin'

x

Track List: Snowfall - Vol. 1

1. Alt Wien

2. Love Tales

3. Love Of My Life

4. The Legend Of Old California

5. Bad Humour Man

6. I'Ve Got A One Track Mind

7. The Doll Dance

8. Stack Of Barley

9. O Sole Mio

10. Hungarian Dance No. 5

11. Traumerei

12. When The Lilacs Bloom Again

13. Do I Worry

14. Sleepy Serenade

15. Portrait Of A Guinea Farm

16. All I Need Is You

17. Over Night

18. Sing A Love Song

19. I'm Thrilled

20. Snowfall

21. Where Or When

22. Lovers In Glass Houses

23. You Were Meant For Me

24. Mandy Is Two

25. Paradise

x

Track List: Live Form Glen Island Casino June / Sept

1. Introduction

2. Where Or When

3. I Wonder, I Wonder, I Wonder

4. You Do

5. Walkin' Stick

6. I Knew You When

7. A Sunday Kind Of Love

8. Jack, Jack, Jack

9. Just Around The Corner

10. Warsaw Concerto

11. Would You Believe Me?

12. At Sundown

13. As Long As I'm Dreaming

14. Medley: Just You, Just Me / Tea For Two / St. Louis Blues

15. Medley: That's My Desire / Beware My Heart / Stella By Starlight

16. Arabian Dance

17. Autumn Serenade

x

Track List: Claude Thornhill & His Orchestra, 1947

1. Snowfall Theme

2. Robbin's Nest

3. Cabin In The Sky

4. 'Deed I Do

5. Happy Stranger

6. Medley: Jealous/Swinging Down The Lane/Breezing Along With The Breeze

7. Just About This Time Last Night

8. Donna Lee

9. Poor Little Rich Girl

10. Polka Dots And Moonbeams

11. I May Be Wrong

12. Adios

13. Sometimes I'm Happy

14. Puttin' And Talkin'

15. Sunday Drivin'

16. Anthropology

Comments

Report as inappropriate
You Thornhill fans should listen to his recording of Where Are When, which is a classic arrangement in the Thornhill style. A very talented musician.
Report as inappropriate
Being a Thornhill, myself I never knew the impact that my Dad's cousin had on the music field. Majoring in music myself at San Jose State I found that music was still in our blood. Traveled playing tenor and alto sax was a kick!! Studied under the late Modesto Briseno in San Jose, Ca.
Claude Thornhill was a trail blazer in the modern jazz era !!
Larry Thornhill
El Dorado Hills, CA
Report as inappropriate
I am not that far back, The 40s but I love The Big Bands..It is music for easy listening and romantic. SO COOL!!
Report as inappropriate
Mellow!
Report as inappropriate
The great bands are just that music that will never fade..
Report as inappropriate
Miles Davis admired of the Claude Thornhill Orchestra and later collaborated with one of their arrangers, Gil Evans.
Report as inappropriate
My fiance and I used to dance to his bmd at the cafe rouge in hotlel pennsylvania whenever he was there....... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . J i m Seaman
Report as inappropriate
@Ee Snoyl We need a revival of elegance...o f romantic big band/swing.. . . We do indeed!
Report as inappropriate
chimene.stew a r t
Snowfall has to be one of the most beautiful and evocative songs ever. I play this over an over every Holiday season here in my Northern California home to help me remember what snow sounds like as its gently falling.... Thornhill deserves to be much better known and revered.
Report as inappropriate
The vocalist is Fran Warren, great voice, at times haunting (For Heavens Sake)
Report as inappropriate
An outstanding big band from a great era!
Report as inappropriate
bessferguson
very very nice
Report as inappropriate
bjohnson0658
Jake the singer on Blues When it Rains is Fran Warren
Report as inappropriate
zappas118
first class arrangements
Report as inappropriate
jake.sj
Who is the vocalist (I Get the Blues When It Rains) with laude Thornhill? Is it Anita O'Day?
Report as inappropriate
Among my top five
Report as inappropriate
we need a revival of elegance...o f romantic big band/swing so that a skilled
artist like Thornhill is never forgotten..

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