Johnny Mandel, a elegant arranger, composer, conductor, bass trumpeter and trombonist who began his career writing for big bands in the 1940s, crossed over to jazz in the '50s and wound up scoring movies in the late 1950s and beyond, including main titles that became standards, died June 29. He was 94.
Like other player-arrangers of the era, including Neal Hefti, Quincy Jones and Henry Mancini, Johnny settled in Los Angeles and tailored his passion for jazz to the commercial demands of film scoring. But Johnny never became slick, keeping one musical foot in the emotional jazz world. Celebrated equally for his swing and strings arrangements, Johnny could get fingers snapping on albums such as Frank Sinatra's Ring-a-Ding Ding (1961) and the Harper (1966) soundtrack and tears flowing on David Allyn's Sings Jerome Kern (1957) and Shirley Horn's Here's to Life (1992).
From the mid-1940s on,...