[Dixielandjazz] DISNEY MUSIC - OKOM?

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Thu Oct 14 08:16:00 PDT 2004

To many of us OKOMers in the USA, "Disney Music" was a genre we fully
appreciated as we grew up. What many (me included) may not have known is
that it's creator was a trumpet player and arranger who did arrangements for
big bands including Stan Kenton and Harry James. (see below)

Steve Barbone

October 14, 2004 - NY TIMES - By RANDY KENNEDY

A Legacy Steeped in the Disney Sound

The name Norman Baker may not be one that comes readily to mind when
thinking of popular American composers. But in a sense, Mr. Baker, known to
friends and admirers as Buddy, was for many years one of the most popular
composers in the country: at one point, almost 90 percent of the music
played at Disney theme parks was composed by him.

Two years after Mr. Baker's death at 84, a complete collection of his scores
and other papers - including film and television scores for "The Mickey
Mouse Club" and "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day," as well as for rides
like It's a Small World and the Haunted Mansion - is being donated to New
York University. 

The university, where Mr. Baker sometimes taught in the last years of his
life, hopes the gift will draw attention not only to Mr. Baker's career but
also to a few other longtime Disney composers, like Paul Smith, Oliver
Wallace, Leigh Harline and George Bruns, who remain little known though
their music was a soundtrack for generations of children.

"It's really a tragedy," said Ronald Sadoff, the university's director of
film scoring studies, who helped bring Mr. Baker's collection to N.Y.U. and
described it as an East Coast coup. "Generally film scores almost never
leave California, and Buddy's work will serve as a kind of cornerstone for
the collection we're trying to build here."

The Baker collection will be presented by Mr. Baker's widow, Charlotte, at a
private ceremony at the university on Saturday.

A onetime trumpet player, Mr. Baker wrote arrangements for many big bands,
including those of Stan Kenton and Harry James, before being hired by Walt
Disney in 1954 for a two-week assignment to help arrange music for the "Davy
Crockett" television show. It was the beginning of a 29-year career.

During those years, he worked on more than 50 feature films and 150
television shows, in addition to the theme-park work at Disneyland, Walt
Disney World and Epcot Center, which he came out of retirement in the early
1980's to continue when the Walt Disney Company asked him. He received an
Academy Award nomination in 1972 for the movie "Napoleon and Samantha."

Of his work, Mr. Baker once said, "No matter what I or anyone else in the
music department wrote, people always recognized it as being the 'Disney
sound.' But if I was asked to define what the Disney sound is, I'd have to
answer that I don't know."

Mr. Sadoff said Mr. Baker and the other longtime Disney composers in the
1950's and 60's "were very much like a family."

He added: "I think there are people who view Walt Disney as manipulative and
oversentimentalized, but for these men it really was a great place for them
to work. They were very secure and there was this camaraderie. There was no
ego about it, which is why it's sometimes hard now to separate the work of
one from the other.

"Together, they seemed to be able to connect America with something very
moral, and very primitive in our childhood, and their work should get more

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