During a career that spanned seven decades, composer and arranger Manny Albam collaborated with a who's who of jazz greats including Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, and Stan Getz. He also developed successive generations of new talent as co-founder and musical director of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. Albam was born June 24, 1922. His parents were en route from their native Russia to their new home in New York City, and his mother went into labor while their ship was outside of the Dominican Republic port of Samana. At the age of seven Albam discovered jazz after hearing a Bix Beiderbecke record, and soon after began playing the alto saxophone; at 16 he dropped out of school following an invitation to join Muggsy Spanier's Dixieland combo, and later played with Georgie Auld, an experience that also afforded Albam his first shot at arranging under the tutelage of bandmate Budd Johnson. Albam next gigged behind Charlie Barnet, from there signing on with Charlie Spivak. During his two years with Spivak, his arranging skills flourished, and he generated an average of two arrangements per week. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Albam returned to the Barnet stable, and as his interest in writing and arranging grew, he effectively retired from performing in 1950, a decision that coincided with the last gasps of the big band era.