Bill Finegan, 91, who arranged hits for Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey, and who then formed, with Eddie Sauter, another legendary arranger, a big band that was famed for skill, daring and very, very odd instruments - including kazoo and glockenspiel - died Wednesday in Bridgeport, Conn.
Arrangers, the largely behind-the-scenes masterminds of the big-band era, took compositions by bandleaders and others and refashioned them. Mr. Finegan heavily arranged Miller's first big hit, "Little Brown Jug," and virtually everything he recorded in 1938 and 1939. He later became a regular arranger for Dorsey.
After the swing era faded, Mr. Finegan started working with Sauter, who had arranged for Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw, among others. Sauter died in 1981.
In forming the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra, the two envisioned an innovative music, defiant of convention but still inspired by musical traditions, especially classical ones.
Wit was implicit, and unexpected instruments were the most conspicuous novelty. These included the piccolo, flute, oboe, bass clarinet, harp, English horn, recorder, tuba, glockenspiel, tympani, kazoo and not one, but two xylophones.
In their arrangement of "Troika" from Prokofiev's "Lieutenant Kijé" Suite, Mr. Finegan conveyed the dull pounding of distant horses' hooves by beating out the rhythm on his chest.
- N.Y. Times News Service