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Obituaries

Salvador 'Tutti' Camarata, 91; Had Diverse Musical Career

April 18, 2005|Jon Thurber | Times Staff Writer

Salvador "Tutti" Camarata, a musician, composer and arranger during the big-band era, has died. He was 91.

Camarata, who was also a leading record industry figure, died Wednesday at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank after a short illness, said his son, Paul.

In his diverse career, Camarata arranged music and played trumpet for a wide range of artists, including Bing Crosby, Jimmy Dorsey, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman and Billie Holiday.

While living in Britain, Camarata worked on films for producer J. Arthur Rank, and while living in Los Angeles, he headed Disneyland Records, where he supervised the recording of more than 300 albums featuring such Disney stars as Annette Funicello and Hayley Mills.

He also started Sunset Sound Recorders, one of the leading recording studios in Hollywood, which has been used by artists as diverse as Miles Davis, Van Halen, Prince and the Rolling Stones.

The youngest of eight children, Camarata was born in Glen Ridge, N.J., on May 11, 1913. He studied at the Juilliard School and Columbia University in New York and found work as a trumpeter in studio bands. In the early '30s, he worked as an arranger for saxophonist and bandleader Charlie Barnet before joining the Dorsey band as lead trumpeter. He is credited with arranging the Dorsey hits "Tangerine," "Green Eyes" and "Yours." Dorsey gave him the nickname "Tutti."

In the early 1940s, Camarata left Dorsey and was an arranger for Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra and Goodman's band.

During World War II, he served as a flight instructor in the Army Air Forces. After the war, he worked as musical director for Decca Records. His notable work there included string arrangements for some of Holiday's recordings.

While living in London after the war, he formed the Kingston Symphony and co-founded London Records, with Sir Edward Lewis, making classical and pop recordings for U.S. distribution. London Records eventually became the home to leading rock bands, including the Rolling Stones.

He returned to the United States in 1950 and did more work for Decca and conducted the television orchestra for the broadcast of "Together With Music" featuring Mary Martin and Noel Coward. He also conducted for singer Vic Damone.

Camarata moved to Southern California at the urging of Walt Disney, who wanted to start a record label in order to release soundtracks for his movies. As a co-founder of Disneyland Records, Camarata is credited with helping Funicello develop a distinctive and salable sound when some at Disney wanted to dub her voice.

"Annette felt she couldn't sing," Camarata recalled some years ago. "So I developed a way of recording her voice, creating an echo. The first time she heard it, she was surprised and happy. She began to gain more confidence as a vocalist."

Camarata had been renting facilities to record the Disney albums and wanted to start his own studio on the Disney lot to control costs. He presented the idea to Walt Disney in the late 1950s, but Disney wasn't interested.

Camarata found a location on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and opened Sunset Sound Recorders in 1960. During the early years, the studio cranked out recordings for a number of popular Disney films, including "101 Dalmatians."

Sunset Sound Recorders became a commercial sound studio in the early 1960s. Camarata left Disney in 1972 to concentrate on other ventures. Over the next decade, he orchestrated and conducted a series of albums for London Records, focusing on the compositions of Bach, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.

His album, "Tutti's Trumpets," recorded in 1957, is considered a classic for trumpet composition, as is the later "Tutti's Trombones."

His wife of 67 years, Dorene, died last year at the age of 88. In addition to his son, who runs Sunset Sound Recorders, Camarata is survived by a granddaughter, Katelyn; and a brother, Kelly. Services are private.

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