You’ve heard the song made famous by Ella Fitzgerald, “A Tisket, A Tasket,” but did you know that Alexander Van Vliet Feldman (later known as Van Alexander), extended and embellished the rhyme into that popular jazz standard?
Rediscover the roots of the bandleader, arranger, and composer in his fascinating autobiography. In the late 1930s, Alexander headlined his own band, but Bob Crosby brought him to Hollywood, he worked as composer, arranger, and conductor on film scores for movies such as Baby Face Nelson (1957), The Last Mile (1959), The Big Operator (1959), The Private Lives of Adam and Eve (1960), 13 Frightened Girls (1963), Strait-Jacket (1964) with Joan Crawford, I Saw What You Did (1965) again with Crawford, and Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966).
Alexander also provided occasional themes for American television series, such as Hazel, The Farmer's Daughter, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Dennis the Menace,and The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters (for which he received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction of a Variety, Musical or Dramatic Program. Alexander arranged and conducted for Mickey Rooney, Gordon MacRae, Dean Martin, and James Stewart, to name but a few.
His person story is also the story of the legendary Big Band Era.
"From Harlem to Hollywood is not an ego book but a sharp autobiography of an interesting life and a wonderful recounting of the big band era. Van Alexander writes about his work with all the greats, and how he came up the musical ranks with Chick Webb and Ella Fitzgerald, and even worked with contemporary Michael Feinstein. Van went on to lead his own band, and composed for films and television . . . His story is nicely intertwined with the happenings in the big bands, with photographs of the people and places of the era, and a discography. The book, written with Stephen Fratallone, is well-organized and what you would expect from one of America's foremost arrangers." –SPERDVAC's Radiogram
"What a great story, a must for all music aficionados, this is legendary stuff. What a gift." –Mark Snow, prolific screen and TV composer of The X-files, The Rookies, Hart to Hart
"Van Alexander knows more about the Big Band era than any man alive - and he's written it all in his autobiography." –James Bacon, veteran Hollywood columnist
"What a delight it is to have the recollections of one who was there, and was central to the development of the Swing Era, and so much of what followed . . . .” –Garry Giddens, author, columnist, artistic director of the American jazz orchestra
"Van Alexander vividly recalls and recaps all the great stories depicting his extraordinary career that began for him in Harlem at the legendary Savoy Ballroom. His anecdotes and association with many musical giants in Hollywood from Les Brown and Billy May, to Stan Getz and "Sweets" Edison. Meet them all in this wonderful book." –Richard Grudens, author of Stardust, The Bible of the Big Bands, and well-known jazz musicologist.