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Marty Manning was perhaps the most-sought-after arranger and conductor among pop singers on the New York studio scene, but to Space Age Pop fans, he's best known for his album inspired by Rod Serling's great television series, "The Twilight Zone." Manning's The Twilight Zone featured new recordings of a variety of space-oriented tunes, with New York instead of L.A. session musicians, but those details have never seemed to matter to the fans who continue to scarf up copies of this record seconds after they hit the shelves.
Manning got his start during the Big Band era, and he was working as a freelance arranger by the early 1940s. He worked in radio, arranging and conducting for a variety of NBC and CBS shows, and began a long relationship with Columbia Records in the early 1950s. He arranged and conducted on many of Tony Bennett's earliest hits, such as "Rags to Riches," and he went on to provide backing for most of Columbia's roster of singers through the late 1960s, including Vic Damone, Buddy Greco, Andy Williams, Robert Goulet, and Barbra Streisand. His arrangement for Bennett's biggest hit, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," won a Grammy Award in 1962, and he was nominated several other times for other arrangements forBennett, Perry Como, Brenda Lee, and others.
The Twilight Zone is a cornucopia of space age sounds and great Space Age Pop names. Jerry Murad is heard on harmonica, Mundell Lowe on guitar; Lois Hunt sang the ethereal wordless vocals, while Harry Breuer played the vibes and Phil Kraus covered miscellaneous percussion. Manning himself covered keyboards, using both Ondioline and Ondes Martenot. The album also earns a footnote in musical history as one of the very few recordings to use a serpent--the instrument, that is.
Manning died at the age of 55 when an undiagnosed congenital aneurysm caused a sudden and massive stroke. A devout Catholic, he's still remembered by his family and associates as a very funny and talented man.
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