Interview: Russ Garcia (Part 3) - JazzWax

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September 19, 2008


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Bob Curtin

I hope the Academy does the right thing by Russ Garcia.


Red Colm O'Sullivan

What a wonderful man! And true giant of music...
Red (Ireland).


Thank you for this article. I had the good fortune of working with Mr. Garcia in Hawaii back in the 70's and have added my voice to yours in singing his praises and urging the Academy to recognize him asap.


Gee, if LizKauai can add her voice, I'll chime in too. In Hawai'i, New York, Samoa and Europe I've had the pleasure of singing for Russ with and without dinner. Few things in this life have given more pleasure or satisfaction than that of knowing and working with this genuine Maestro. Many thanks to Marc Myers for his dedication to clearing up an old injustice.

Jeff Morgan

Deaer Mr. Myers: Someone alerted me today to your Sept 08 interview with Russell Garcia regarding Limelight. I am Larry Russell's daughter. Over the years, I have run across Mr. Garcia's claims regarding his alleged work on Limelight and his claim that my father had nothing to do with it and I am, frankly, appalled. My father worked very closely with Ray Rasch every day for months at our house in Laurel Canyon. Ray would meet each morning with Chaplin, then come directly to my father, since Ray had never scored anything in his life. I have no idea who Mr. Garcia is, but I can tell you, that I have personal knowledge of my father's work on Limelight - I was there when Ray came to our house every day. You may or may not know, that my father composed the standard Vaya Con Dios (which, incidentally was recorded by Anita O'Day, another person who Mr. Garcia claims to know.) Perhaps you should ask Mr. Garcia if he also wrote Vaya Con Dios? As for his claim that one of my three brothers called him to apologize about our father being awarded the Oscar, this is unadulterated hogwash - I just find it so interesting that Mr. Garcia continues to lay claim to my father's work - perhaps because he knows that my father passed away at the age of 41, (in 1954) that his widow, Inez James, (another author of Vaya Con Dios) has now passed away, that Ray Rasch is gone, that Charlie Chaplin has died - (and oh yes, Anita O'Day is gone too) --so convenient that there is no living person to refute his allegations. But, rest assured, I am still here and so are two of my brothers, Gordon and George, and we will continue to urge all of you to check your facts a little more.

Linda Russell Morgan

Ron Pulliam

Funny how someone who was a musician and has a photo of himself working with Chaplin should be disrespected so vehemently by an alleged member of Larry Russell's family when she has nothing to offer as proof on her own part. I believe Mr. Garcia...after all, he said nothing ugly or disrespectful at all about Mr. Russell.

I've HEARD of Russell Garcia...and he certainly has no need to steal any thunder from Larry Russell, of whom I've heard nothing until now.


I see there is some controversy but maybe both deserve the award if they worked with Chaplin in different frames. No disrespect to either man but it does lower the Academy's reputation for not addressing this pretty obvious oversight. Of course, I do understand that redressing this oversight may open other controversies so that is probably why the Academy hopes this will problem will go away.

Andy Atwill

Part of being a good arranger and composer is to disseminate a wide variety of works from a wide variety of arrangers and composers.

The learning process means the ARRANGERS and COMPOSERS have their own unique style.
Arrangers can recognise

Russell Garcias style is his own as is Quincy Jones, Hank Mancini, Nelson Riddle, John Williams, Ennio Morricone etcetera..

Get the LIVING ones that the incorrect recipient so casually deprecates Mr.Garcia where Mr.Garcia does no such thing.

As John Williams I KNOW he is very familiar with Mr.Garcias work as he studied it.
John Williams is more well known as a film Arranger and composer than anyone.

I do however find it insulting someone who is known for his integrity and lack of Hypocrisy to be called a Cahrlatan by someone who truly does not understand that like carbon dating, a good arranger can recognise IMMEDIATELY who another arranger and composer is.

Andy Atwill

Dear Ms. Linda Russell Morgan

As for claiming to know Anita O'Day, Mr.Garcia recorded with 4 trombones a very respected piece of work by Ms.Anita O'Day.
He neither vilifies you or any member of your family and certainly not your father which you seem to be "Methinks though doth protest too much".

On Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgeralds "Porgy & Bess" album is a picture of him with them. Unlike a comment that has been made that the picture of him was doctored my suggestion is you get your facts right.

Mr.Garcias books are taught in every major Jazz institution and place where "How to arrange" is taught. While part of me would like to respond in kind to you in regard to the levels of respect Mr.Garcia has worldwide, not only for his skills, but especially for his demeanor, I will not lower myself by making a comparison to your father whom I am sure would not do the same to Mr.Garcia either.
To be honest, I have never heard of your father and I am on the other side of the world, but I have heard and studied Mr.Garcia's works and some of his students and peers works.

If you knew the condition Charlie Chaplin was in at the time he said only one word when asked who did the work - "Russell" - you may be lateral enough to realise that a person a t that stage of their life in their condition may have been wrong about both of them? Have you considered this?
For all we know "Joe the Plumber" might have come out of his mouth if in the wrong headspace at the time of questioning.

It is NOT Mr.Garcia that is pursuing this, it is people that know that Mr.Garcia will not and does not and simply want to see him get credit for the work he has done.

If you so succinctly purvey a knowledge of the arts, then you would know about "Ghost-Writing" as well was and sometimes is still a common practice. In this case, NOBODY wishes to see your father or any member of your family discredited at all, yet you have become defensive as if it is just that.
All anyone wants is to see credit where it is CORRECTLY due.

If the situations were reversed, what I do know of Mr/Garcia is HE WOULD NOT ACCEPT THE OSCAR unless he had done the work.

Therein lies the largest most notable difference.

He has integrity.


I am Ray Rasch's nephew. Unfortunately, I don't have any information to add to this debate, but I am intrigued to see these people who may have known my uncle discussing this project all these years later. If anyone has anecdotes about working with Ray or details about what this period of life was like for him, I would love to hear it. I can be reached at [email protected]

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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