Pete Rugolo Interview

Summer 2000 

Terry Vosbein speaking to Pete Rugolo at Rugolo’s home on Pacheco Drive in Sherman Oaks, California. 

The audio as presented below is divided into sections for the ease of listening, not for it’s content. The conversation flowed for almost two hours, and bounced between topics.The recording has been edited for fluidity.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

My Image

“We [Kenton] were the best of friends, really the best of friends. We got along just great…Ever since I heard his band the first time and heard his arrangements, he became my idol.”

“The first six months or so I tried to write a lot more commercial like him. And he says, ‘No, you don't have to. Write anything you want.’ And little by little I started bringing in some of the more modern stuff. And at first the guys in the band, they weren't crazy 'cause they said it didn't swing.”

“And I thought to myself, there's no reason why jazz, or jazz orchestra can't play some modern music, instead of just four-part harmony all the time like Benny Goodman, all the saxes played together, and Glenn Miller and all that kind of stuff…I was thinking more concert kind of music. And write some dissonance and some form, and some pieces that are almost like tone poems.”

“I tried to write a few bop things for Stan, didn’t…That's the only things he didn't like. So he hardly ever played 'em.”

“What would happen, though, is that every night…at the last set, he'd liked to go out and order his drinks, 'cause he wouldn't allow anybody to drink on the job, ever. And he didn't. But he was a big drinker. So I'd sit in and play the last set most of the time, then I'd pick out some of the things for the guys. I'd play 'Three Bop' and 'Artistry in Gillespie' and all those kinds; he didn't care.”

“Now, Graettinger is another case. He got paid as an arranger but he was kind of a strange boy and he lived by himself and he wasn’t…Nobody knew him, hardly at all, he was pretty strange and he takes six months to write an arrangement. He'd only bring one, one every two or three months, but when he brought it in it was so different and Stan liked it. And it was really far out, much more modern than my stuff.”