Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



(b Paul Wetstein, 12 March 1912, Springfield MA; d 20 September 1996, Santa Monica CA) Arranger, conductor, composer. He played piano and led a dance band at Dartmouth College; arranged for Rudy Vallee, Phil Harris and Joe Haynes, and stayed with Tommy Dorsey '35-40 when Dorsey took over the Haynes band. He worked for Bob Crosby '41-2, Dinah Shore '42-3, joined the new Capitol label '43 on staff and was A&R director '44-50. (He played clarinet on two charming tracks '47 by 'Ten Cats and a Mouse', with Billy May on trumpet, producer Dave Cavanaugh on baritone, Red Norvo on piano, Peggy Lee on drums etc, reissued in Mosaic's twelve-CD/19-LP Classic Capitol Jazz Sessions '97.) He went to Columbia Records (CBS/USA) '50-8.

He was also music director on Johnny Mercer’s radio show '43, Chesterfield Supper Club show mid-'40s, also Duffy's Tavern, The Paul Weston Show etc; and on TV shows '60s-70s including Danny Kaye (weekly for four years), many others. He accompanied Shore on Bluebird; Andy Russell, Jo Stafford and Dean Martin on Capitol; Doris Day, Frankie Laine on Columbia and many others; he married Stafford '52. (Russell was an underrated ballad singer with a dozen hits in the '40s, b Andy Rabajos of a Mexican-Spanish family, and remained popular in Mexico; d 16 April 1992 in Phoenix aged 73.) Weston's own hits on Capitol included show tunes, some with vocals by Margaret Whiting, Matt Dennis and others, and instrumentals (three albums charted in Billboard). (vocalist Dennis d 21 June 2002 in Riverside CA, aged 88; he was also a songwriter whose works included ‘Let’s Get Away From It All’ and ‘Everything Happens To Me’, one of Frank Sinatra’s most beautiful records, in 1941 with Dorsey.) Weston hits on Columbia '50-1 with the Norman Luboff Choir included 'Nevertheless (I'm In Love With You)'; also instrumental film theme 'Shane' '53. From '54 he collaborated with Stafford in the comedy duo Jonathan and Darlene Edwards (see her entry); they later formed a Corinthian label, keeping some of their classic work in print (including Jonathan and Darlene). He was a founding member and the first national president of NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences), which began awarding Grammys '58.

He co-wrote 'I Should Care' ('45 hit for Dorsey), 'Shrimp Boats' ('51 hit for Stafford), 'Day By Day' (four hit versions '46 including Stafford and Frank Sinatra), others. His instrumental albums beginning on Capitol were masterpieces of their kind in the golden era of USA 'light music', rooted in the Swing Era and less orchestral than those of Percy Faith. His work for Columbia included lightly swinging singles like 'Anna' (film theme), LPs like Caribbean Cruise, impeccably arranged, played and recorded for listening or dancing. Others included Mood Music By Paul Weston, Music For A Rainy Night, Moonlight Becomes You. Mood For 12 had twelve tracks with first-class jazz soloists such as Eddie Miller and George Van Eps; Solo Mood was similar and both were top 20 albums '55-6. He thought that other orchestral albums (presumably Mantovani, 101 Strings etc) gave 'mood music' a bad name because they were less jazz-influenced. 'All I did was add strings to a dance band. The reason it still swung was because I used good jazz musicians.' One of his clever but tasteful arranger's tricks was to have the rest of the band play softly when using strings instead of amplifying the strings; the result was a chamber-music quality that went right to the heart of his kind of music.

Weston was responsible for Columbia albums on the West Coast, George Avakian and Irving Townsend in New York; among other things, Weston made two of Doris Day's best albums (Day By Day and Day By Night), and made albums by the Luboff Choir which nobody thought would be hits, but they charted '55-7. Mitch Miller was in charge of singles nationally; he talked himself into responsibility for albums as well and fired Weston '58, whereupon Weston was snapped up by the TV networks.

Working freelance, Weston backed Ella Fitzgerald on her Irving Berlin Songbook on Verve, and remade some of his Capitol work in stereo, including Carefree, with a refreshing sound of four flugelhorns, four trombones, four French horns, no reeds or strings. More ambitious work included Crescent City on Columbia (later on Corinthian), along with compilations Easy Jazz and Cinema Cameos, and the original Columbia Music For Easy Listening. Capitol stereo remakes Music For Memories and Music For Dreaming '59 were combined on a single CD '91, and the two-disc Columbia Album Of Jerome Kern on a CD from Columbia Special Products. Son Tim Weston (b 19 November 1952) is a guitarist whose albums (i.e. fusion group Wishful Thinking, with drummer Dave Garibaldi, ex-Tower of Power) were released in Japan and in the USA, plus the more straightahead Providence '93 on Novus, with vocalist (and co-writer) Shelby Flint. Daughter Amy Weston (b 1 March 1958) is a fine singer in her mother's mould, and was singing in 1994 with the Bill Elliott Swing Band, using some of Jo's arrangements.

For Jonathan and Darlene Edwards, the comedy duo Weston did with Jo Stafford, see her entry.