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Claus Ogerman
Background information
Birth nameKlaus Ogermann
Born(1930-04-29)29 April 1930
Ratibor, Germany
Died8 March 2016(2016-03-08) (aged 85)
  • Composer
  • conductor
  • arranger
Years active1950s–2016
LabelsUnited Artists, Warner Bros., Decca

Claus Ogerman (born Klaus Ogermann; 29 April 1930 – 8 March 2016) was a German arranger, conductor, and composer best known for his work with Billie Holiday, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Frank Sinatra, Michael Brecker, and Diana Krall.

Life and work

Born in Ratibor (Racibórz), Upper Silesia, Germany (now part of Poland), Ogerman began his career with the piano. He was one of the most prolific 20th century arrangers and has worked in the top 40, rock, pop, jazz, R&B, soul, easy listening, Broadway and classical music fields. The exact number of recording artists for whom Ogerman has either arranged or conducted during his career has never been determined.[citation needed]

In the 1950s, Ogerman worked in Germany as an arranger-pianist with Kurt Edelhagen, saxophonist and bandleader Max Greger, and Delle Haensch. Claus (then Klaus) also worked as a part-time vocalist and recorded several 45 rpm singles under the pen name of "Tom Collins", duetting with Hannelore Cremer; he also recorded a solo vocal with the Delle Haensch Jump Combo.[1]

In 1959, Ogerman moved to the United States and joined the producer Creed Taylor at Verve Records, working on recordings with many artists, including Antonio Carlos Jobim, Bill Evans, Wes Montgomery, Kai Winding, and Cal Tjader. Verve was sold to MGM in 1963. Ogerman, by his own reckoning in Gene Lees' Jazzletter publication, arranged some 60-70 albums for Verve under Creed Taylor's direction from 1963 to 1967.[2]

During this time he also arranged many pop hits, including Solomon Burke's "Cry To Me", and Lesley Gore's "It's My Party", "Judy's Turn to Cry", "She's a Fool", and "Maybe I Know".[3] In 1966, Ogerman arranged and conducted Bill Evans Trio with Symphony Orchestra (Verve Records). In 1967, he joined Creed Taylor on the A&M/CTi label. Ogerman charted under his own name in 1965. The RCA single "Watusi Trumpets" reached #130 in the Music Vendor charts.[citation needed]

He arranged and conducted the orchestra on George Benson's 1976 album, Breezin', as well as on two other Benson albums. Ogerman won the 1980 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement for George Benson's "Soulful Strut" and the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) for "Quiet Nights". Among Ogerman's most remarkable albums are: Gate Of Dreams (WB, 1977), from the music of the ballet Some Times; Cityscape with Michael Brecker (Warner/Pioneer, 1982); and Claus Ogerman Featuring Michael Brecker (GRP, 1991), all of which include original compositions centered on the juxtaposition of jazz instruments and rhythm sections with classical music orchestra.[citation needed]

Ogerman arranged and conducted Diana Krall's 2001 album The Look of Love, and conducted parts of her Live in Paris performance recorded on DVD. He also served as arranger and conductor for Krall's 2009 album Quiet Nights.

Classical compositions

From the 1970s, Ogerman devoted himself almost exclusively to composing. His commissions included a ballet score for the American Ballet Theatre, Some Times; a work for Bill Evans for jazz piano and orchestra, Symbiosis; a work for Michael Brecker for saxophone and orchestra, Cityscape; a song cycle, Tagore-Lieder, after poems by Rabindranath Tagore, recorded by Judith Blegen and Brigitte Fassbaender; a concerto for violin and orchestra, Lirico, and a Sarabande-Fantasie for violin and orchestra, recorded by Aaron Rosand; 10 Songs for Chorus A-Capella After Poems by Georg Heym, recorded by the Cologne Radio Chorus; and a work for violin and orchestra, Preludio and Chant, recorded by Gidon Kremer. His works for violin and piano were recorded on a 2007 disc by the Chinese violinist Yue Deng and French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet. In July 2008, Ogerman released an album of compositions with jazz pianist Danilo Perez, Across the Crystal Sea.

Ogerman's major influences as a composer were Max Reger and Alexander Scriabin. He steadfastly maintained that he was not primarily concerned with "modernism" per se, stating that his goal was to evoke an emotional response in the listener.[4]

Work with Antonio Carlos Jobim

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Ogerman arranged and conducted Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim (1967), the first of two recordings that Frank Sinatra made with Antonio Carlos Jobim. Ogerman also arranged and conducted Jobim's The Composer of Desafinado, Plays (1963), A Certain Mr. Jobim (1967), Wave (1967), Jobim (1972), Urubu (1976), and Terra Brasilis (1980), on which he also played the piano. Ogerman also produced the Jobim and Urubu albums.

Filmography as composer



as arranger/conductor

With George Benson

With Solomon Burke

With Donald Byrd

With Betty Carter

With Sammy Davis Jr.

With Bill Evans

With Connie Francis

With Michael Franks

With Stan Getz

With Astrud Gilberto

With João Gilberto

With João Donato

With Lesley Gore

With Stephane Grappelli

With Al Hirt

With Billie Holiday

With Johnny Hodges

With Freddie Hubbard

With Willis Jackson

With Antônio Carlos Jobim

With Dr. John

With Wynton Kelly

With Ben E. King

With Diana Krall

With Wes Montgomery

With Danilo Perez

With Oscar Peterson

With Frank Sinatra

With Jimmy Smith

With Barbra Streisand

With Cal Tjader

With Mel Tormé

With Stanley Turrentine

With Kai Winding

See also


  1. ^ "The Work of Claus Ogerman". Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  2. ^ "The Work of Claus Ogerman". Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  3. ^ "The Work of Claus Ogerman". Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  4. ^ "The Work of Claus Ogerman". Retrieved 5 April 2017.