Harold Battiste

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Harold Batiste Harold Battiste may be best known as Sonny & Cher's arranger, but there's much more to the story than that interesting piece of pop trivia. Sax player, arranger, talent scout, educator, recordexecutive and jazz historian -- Battiste has worked every inch of the record biz.

After picking up the sax he headed west, where he encountered Ornette Coleman. Trying to work up label interest in Ornette, Harold met Art Rupe, who promptly recruited him to be New Orleans' A&R man and talent scout for his Specialty label. After realizing that the labels were making all the money (and that musicians were lucky if they were thrown a bone), Battiste came up with the idea for the musician-owned A.F.O. imprint.

With hits like Barbara George's "I Know" and Prince La La's "You Put the Hurt On Me," A.F.O. started off with a bang - but the double juggernaut of the Beatles and Juggy Murray put A.F.O. out of business. After relocating to California, Battiste hooked up with Sonny & Cher while doing session work. Between sessions, Battiste concocted the Gris Gris album with Mac Rebennack (alias Dr. John) and after years on the West Coast, moved back to New Orleans, where he was instrumental in the creation of the UNO Jazz Studies Program. Committed to the preservation of modern jazz in New Orleans, Battiste reactivated A.F.O. and has reissued classic performances on that label ever since, as well as influencing countless younger players with his talent, interest and open-minded attitude.

A great article on Harold Battiste.

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