Lester E. (Les) Elgart began playing trumpet as a teenager, and by age 20 had landed professional gigs. In the 1940s he played in bands led by Raymond Scott, Charlie Spivak, and Harry James, and occasionally found himself in bands alongside brother Larry. Together they put together their own Les & Larry Elgart Ensemble in 1945, hiring Nelson Riddle, Ralph… read more
Les reunited with Larry once again in 1963, by which time Larry had begun to add elements of rock and pop to the musical mix. Charles Albertine returned as arranger early on, but soon left to work in the TV/film industry, and was replaced by Bobby Scott . Released in 1964, Command Performance! was their last charting album, but a number of other albums from this era later became popular with lounge collectors, particularly 1967's Girl Watchers. That was one of the brothers' final recordings together, as Les retired to Texas and performed only occasionally. Larry soldiered on, and eventually found surprising commercial success in the early '80s as mastermind of the popular Hooked on Swing albums. Elgart and his New Manhattan Swing Band ran through medleys of popular jazz tunes set to a steady beat, in a format like that of the companion Hooked on Classics series. Larry Elgart continued to lead bands on whatever circuits he could find; Les Elgart passed away in Dallas on July 29, 1995, of heart failure.