Marty Gold, Musical Arranger and Composer, Dies at 95

Here is the “official obituary” for Marty that the family has circulated to various news outlets, music industry organizations, and colleagues.

marty gold conducting

Marty Gold conducting his studio orchestra.

Marty Gold, a musical arranger and composer whose career spanned more than five decades and included scores of recordings both of his own studio orchestra and of collaborations with well-known singers, instrumentalists, and pop culture icons of the 20th century, died on January 14 in Agoura Hills, Ca. He was 95.

His wife, Helen (Jackie) Gold, said the cause was kidney failure.

Marty was perhaps best known as the creator of a series of pop orchestral recordings in the 1950s and 1960s, most produced by RCA Victor and released under the name “Marty Gold and His Orchestra.” Featuring ambitious re-workings of big band tunes, popular songs, Continue reading

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More Marty Gold Tributes, via Henri Campo

Henri Campo, a sound mastering technician and serious Marty Gold fan, posted a wonderful appreciation several days ago. In a recent e-mail exchange (with me, Michael), he had some additional thoughts and comments that he generously agreed to share here in this new posting.

The jazz musician who first turned me on to Marty Gold was “Kid” Layton Martens, a prominent New Orleans musician who not only played jazz trombone in New Orleans Jazz Festivals but also was cellist in the New Orleans Civic Symphony, the founder of the Spirit of New Orleans Brass Band and a player in the New Leviathan Oriental Fox Trot Orchestra. Layton was also an avid audiophile and besides his appreciation of Marty Gold’s superb arrangements also was always putting on “Soundpower”, “Sounds Unlimited” & other Marty Gold records as examples of recordings that challenged and showed off the awesome sound of his stereo equipment. Sadly, Layton Martens passed away in 2000 of a sudden heart attack at age 57.

I later found out that Layton was not alone in this assessment as your father’s recordings were considered “audiophile quality” and were used in the best audio salons to demonstrate sound systems. Also, in the 1990s I became acquainted with RCA’s legendary classical producer John Pfeiffer and he told me that Marty Gold was not only a great musician but as RCA’s a&r man on the East Coast he was responsible for the high quality sound of recordings RCA made in New York. Additionally when we interviewed Academy Award Winning composer Elmer Bernstein for a DVD project in the late 1990s he told me that Marty Gold was one of the greatest arranger-orchestrators he had ever encountered and greatly admired his recordings.

I managed to collect all 22 of the RCA Marty Gold albums, some on reel tape, and have transferred all of them to digital format and used my professional sound restoration tools to remaster them for myself and a few friends who I myself have turned on to the Marty Gold sound. “Soundpower/Sounds Unlimited” in particular still have the capacity to challenge the best sound systems of today. But as the son of Marty Gold, you probably already know that Marty Gold was a man who was always ahead of his time musically and technically.

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“The Man Who Created ‘Living Stereo'”

Henri Campo, a Marty Gold fan, just posted this tribute on the Share a Memory page:

It is sad to hear of Marty Gold’s passing, the man who literally created the RCA “LIVING STEREO” POP SOUND in the 1950s and was possibly the most inventive arranger-conductor ever. His instrumental arrangements of pop standards, Broadway & Film music were little 3 minute symphonic works of genius that stood out above all the recordings that came to be known recently as “Space Age Pop.”

I became acquainted with Marty Gold in the 1970s through an older jazz musician friend who told me that Gold’s hand picked orchestra of virtuoso New York players was the best big band jazz symphonic ensemble he had ever heard. I have since collected and transferred all his albums to digital format and listen to them all the time. I am continually amazed how it was possible for him to come up with those incredible and unusual instrumental combinations. I am sure flugelhorn players are eternally grateful to him for his bold decision to use this instrument to play lead on many of his recordings, especially Gold’s delicious arrangement of “A String of Pearls” on the Soundpower album. We will not see or hear the likes of Marty Gold again.

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Growing Up Gold

Debbie sent these recollections of her grandfather making music with the family:

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I think some of my happiest memories as a child were those making music with my grandfather, Marty Gold, and our family during the holidays and whenever we visited. We’d play standards and show tunes and the whole family would play and sing along.

Then, Grandpa would play his hit song “Tell Me Why” and it touched all of us deeply.

In the summer of 1983, I decided to transfer to Berklee College of Music for my undergraduate studies. Grandpa wanted to get me ready for the “Berklee way” of learning music. So, I drove to his home in Leonia, New Jersey, from Long Beach Island every week to take a private lesson with him in his music studio.

We’d share the piano bench, his pipe always on hand, and we would work on music for hours. Those were some of the best moments for me “growing up Gold”!

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Valerie’s Chosen Uncle

Valerie Adler Capetta, a close friend of the family, sent these thoughts:

Marty was not my real Uncle.  It was better than that, he was a chosen Uncle.

He and my Dad, Henry Adler, went to Lincoln High School together in Brooklyn, and they had an instant connection…..their love of music…..which lasted forever. Our families were close; we spent holidays together and vacationed together. A week was never complete unless the Adler-Gold gang spent time with each other.

When I found out that Marty passed away, my heart was so heavy, I was so sad; and then I realized how fortunate I was. This wonderful man, who was one in a million, was part of my life for almost 60 years.

I have many beautiful and fun-filled memories of my Uncle, but one stands out from all the rest. When I was 16 years old, our families rented a home together for the summer on Long Beach Island. I can still see this as clearly today as I did then. Uncle Marty would sit on the second floor sun-drenched balcony, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, wearing a big sun hat, pipe in one hand, pen in another, composing and arranging the music he adored. I was only a kid, but I knew then that was the only way to go to work! How many people are fortunate enough to love what they do for a living? That’s when I realized why my Uncle always had a smile on his face. He loved what he did, and he did what he loved, there is no better combination. Bravo Uncle Marty, you did it your way, even before Sinatra did!

To Aunt Jackie, Bonnie, Wendy, Dan, Mike, Lori , and the entire family, I send my deepest sympathy. Marty was not only a gentleman, he was a gentle man who was warm, loving, and kind.

The world has lost a truly unique man, but just imagine how that band in heaven is swinging now!

With love,

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“Kid Brother” Arthur Remembers Marty

1939 New York Word's Fair posterArthur sent this remembrance of his brother:

The earliest vivid recollection I have of Marty is my big brother at the upright piano in our home in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, NY. I was a young kid about 8 years old, and I was at the end of the piano tapping out the rhythm of the music he was playing. The room was crowded with Marty’s musician friends, and he turned to them and said “the kid’s got rhythm.”

When our mother suddenly passed away a year later I, a bewildered kid nine years old, was sent to live with relations. It was Marty who had the wisdom, far beyond his 21 years, who convinced a sobbing, confused younger brother who only wanted to go back to Brooklyn to stay where he was – it was the best place for me.

I was so proud of my big brother when I saw him perform with the Korn Kobblers at the NY 1939 World’s Fair, and at the same Fair, at the other end of the music spectrum, I saw Lorin Maazel, the child prodigy, conduct the NY Philharmonic in short pants! Of course, Maazel went on to become a world famous conductor, and incidentally, a friend of Marty’s.

My brother Marty always had a positive outlook on life that came from an inner strength. He fathered a large, wonderful family who loved him dearly. I always admired his immense musical talent and though I mourn his passing and will miss him greatly, I celebrate the memory of his very very rich life. I will always be his “kid brother”.

Yes, Michael, the other night I played Marty’s “The Moon was Yellow” from his album “SOUNDPOWER” and was blown away by it too!

Great seeing the video of the Korn Kobblers. I have a vague remembrance as a very young kid of being at the Long Island City sound stages when they were being filmed.
The last time I saw Nels Laakso and his wife Oni, was at Lori’s wedding. He was a real gentleman. I think that Marty must have been a stabilizing influence on those zany guys, but I’m sure that they didn’t want to be TOO stabilized.

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The “Music Gene”

Here’s a remembrance from Bonnie about her father’s musical influence:

Marty Gold

Bonnie took this photo of Dad when she visited with him last year.

My wonderful Dad, Marty Gold, left a very special legacy to our family which my son, Bob, has identified as “the music gene.” Dad inspired three generations including his children, grandchildren, and great granchildren to love music.

When I last visited with Dad in November 2010, he was excited about creating a visual piano method book for children with my daughter, Debbie. On prior visits during the twenty years my parents have lived in California, Dad would often play his latest original song for me and tell me about his inspirations. One was entitled “I Remember” and he wrote the lyrics by reflecting on friends who are no longer alive, but true to his approach to life, the song ends on a positive “note.” I will always remember his peaceful expression as he played the music and sang the meaningful words, “forget the sorrow here comes tomorrow and the sun will shine again.”

Dad loved music and all of us in a very special way. I miss him very much and find strength in his legacy.

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Korn Kobblers Video: “That’s My Weakness Now”

Here’s Dad appearing in a “Soundie” (an early form of music video) of the Korn Kobblers, the novelty group he co-founded and played with from 1939 through 1954. I guess they couldn’t fit the piano on the set, so you’ll see him mostly waving a pair of sticks in the air. He appears front and center at the very beginning of the video (wearing his “Keep Smilin’” sign), then again at 2:12 and 2:21 playing what looks like a toy xylophone. Nels Laakso, whom my brother, sisters, and I all remember as an old family friend, appears playing trumpet at around 1:05.

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