Personal details about arranger/conductor Richard Wess, such as his date and place of birth, seem to be virtually impossible to find. Luckily, his work is far easier to track down, and it speaks for itself.
As the man behind Bobby Darin's 1959 breakthrough LP 'That's All,' Wess helped vault the young singer into worldwide fame, with mega-hits such as "Mack the Knife" and "Beyond the Sea."
Wess' earliest work as an arranger and conductor appears to be on the 1957 Sallie Blair album, 'Squeeze Me' (Bethlehem BCP 6009). Blair was a vocalist of great wit and personality, not unlike Bobby Darin. Her rendition of "Almost Like Being In Love" features an exciting Darinesque vocal flourish as she launches into the refrain. Finger-snaps reminiscent of Darin's can be heard on her swingin' version of "Ain't (S)He Sweet." These tracks, and several others on the album, feature Wess playing piano and...