He probably had the squarest name of all the Hollywood arrangers of the 1950s, but saxophonist and clarinetist Heinie Beau was a hip swinger and writer. He played in many of the best bands of the 1940s and became one of Hollywood's top ghost arrangers. Unfortunately, Beau recorded only one jazz album under his name in the 1950s—Moviesville Jazz: Heinie Beau and His Hollywood Jazz Stars (Coral), in June 1958. [Pictured above, from left: Heinie Beau, singer Toni Fisher and her husband Wayne Shanklin—a composer, arranger, producer and principal of Signet Records; c. 1959]
The album is notable for its tight charts and monster studio musicians. On six of the album's tracks—The Three Hands of Adam, The House on Olivera St., The Gina Pastrami Cha Cha Cha, Moonset Boulevard, The Five and a Half Gallon Hat Story and Gullible Travels, the studio band featured Don Fagerquist (tp), Jack Cave (fhr), Heinie Beau (fl,cl,as,arr), Ted Nash (fl,cl,as), Bill Ulyate (b-cl,bar,bassax), Tony Rizzi (g), Red Callender (b), Jack Sperling (d) and Frank Flynn (perc,vib,xyl).
On the remaining six—In Your Private Eye, The Tattooed Street Car Named Baby, The Cool Tin Roof Story, Under the Blow Top, The Man With the Golden Embouchure and Scotland Yardbird, the band included Fagerquist (tp), John Graas (fhr), Beau (fl,cl,as,arr), Buddy Collette (fl,cl,ts), Chuck Gentry (b-cl,bar,bassax), Howard Roberts (g), Red Mitchell (b), Bill Richmond (d) and Flynn (perc,vib,xyl). [Photo above of Don Fagerquist]
Don't let the quirky song titles fool you. The arrangements are aces and the playing terrific, as you might imagine from the names above. There's a compact, cinematic feel to the work, and each musician is given a chance to be heard, particularly Fagerquist.
So who was Beau?
In the early 1940s, Beau played and recorded with Tommy Dorsey when Frank Sinatra [above] was in the band, and the Beau-Sinatra relationship would prove to be valuable in the LP era 15 years later. In the mid-1940s, Beau played on Capitol recording sessions for Peggy Lee, Billy May and Jo Stafford. In 1946, he was in Artie Shaw's orchestra, and Benny Goodman's and Woody Herman's in 1947. There also were recordings with Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden in 1951.
When the LP era kicked into high gear in the early '50s and skilled arrangers were needed to help labels meet expanding pop quotas and movie- and TV-studio schedules, Beau traded his reeds for a pencil. Beau's first arranging credit had been Violets for Your Furs in 1941 while he was in Dorsey's band with Sinatra. Beau also arranged for Red Nichols in 1945 and Ziggy Elman in 1950. He also wrote the arrangement for Jeri Southern's recording of An Occasional Man in 1955. [Photo above, from left: Heinie Beau, Johnny Mince and Freddie Stulce in Las Vegas]
Most important, Beau wrote the arrangement for Sinatra's Columbia recording of Birth Of The Blues in 1952 and Lean Baby for Capitol—the first track recorded by Sinatra at his initial Capitol recording session in April 1953.
Typically Beau and George Sirvano were brought in to imitate the styles of Nelson Riddle or Billy May when those headline arrangers became too busy with recording projects, particularly on the up-tempo numbers. According to Will Friedwald in his terrific Sinatra book, The Song Is You [photo above: Nelson Riddle and Frank Sinatra]...
"Beau is probably the only arranger to work continually with Sinatra from the Dorsey days through the Reprise era. 'Whenever Paul [Weston] or I would get stuck, Heinie would help us out,' said May. 'Heinie Beau was a very gifted man—and fast,' recalled trumpeter Zeke Zarchy. 'You needed something done quick, and he'd have it.' May added that 'Heinie worked for both Paul and myself, so he could imitate either one of us. He wrote like me because that's what I wanted.'
"Beau was also responsible for much of Sinatra's final two Capitol albums, both from 1961—Come Swing With Me, on which he wrote seven of the 12 charts, and Point of No Return, for which he wrote three. May was in particular need of Beau's services in 1961 because, in addition to his usually full schedule of vocal and instrumental albums, he was also serving as musical director on Milton Berle's weekly variety series [on television]."
Beau would not record under his own name again until the 1980s—Heinie Beau & His Hollywood Quartet (1980), Blues for Two (1982) and Heinie Beau & His Hollywood Sextet (1984), all for his own Henri label. Beau died in 1987 at age 75.
JazzWax tracks: I found Moviesville Jazz: Heinie Beau and his Hollywood Jazz Stars at iTunes and Amazon here.
JazzWax clip: Here's Heinie Beau's arrangement of Violets for Your Furs by Tommy Dorsey's Orchestra in 1941 with Frank Sinatra—with an emphasis on the clarinet...