(CelebrityAccess) — Larry Elgart, saxophonist, leader of the Manhattan Swing Orchestra, and one of the last of the big band era swing and jazz band leaders died the early morning of August 29, 2017, following a brief illness.
Elgart's death was reported by friend and longtime colleague Producers Inc. President Craig Hankenson. "It was a great honor to become a friend of Larry and [his wife] Lynne and to represent him at the end of his long and active career. With great respect we bid farewell," Hankenson wrote.
A native of New London, Connecticut, Elgart and his brother Les began performing in jazz combos as teens and by the mid-1940s, had started their own ensemble. However, their group dissolved within a few years and the Elgins sold their commissioned arrangements to Tommy Dorsey and they accepted sideman gigs in other orchestras.
In 1953, Elgart teamed up with experimental arranger Charles Albertine and released a pair of avant garde jazz recordings — "Music for Barefoot Ballerinas" and "Impressions of Outer Space." While the albums were not a commercial success, they paved the way for a more conventional ensemble that started creating music that would lead to a successful commercial period for Elgart.
In 1954, Elgart released what would become one of his most successful recordings, the "Bandstand Boogie" as the theme music for Bob Horn's, and later Dick Clark's "American Bandstand."
Then, in 1984, Elgart again struck a chord with the music-listening public with the release of "Hooked on Swing" on K-Tel Records. The album, a medley of popular swing music standards, was part of a series of popular 'hooked on' records from the era and landed him at #24 on the US Billboard Chart. The album and its follow-up 'Hooked On Swing 2' revitalized Elgart's touring career and he continued to tour internationally and record into the 2000s.
Elgart recorded more than 50 albums over the course of his career, including Flight of the Condor (1981), The Shape of Sounds to Come (1961) and New Sounds at The Roosevelt (1951).