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MacKay, Stuart (10 December 1909)



  • Existence: 10 December 1909


Stuart MacKay was born 10 December 1909 in Montreal, Canada. He was a bassoonist versatile in jazz, classical and popular music performance. MacKay studied at Ithaca College, University of Michigan and Columbia University; and also took many years of private lessons with some of the foremost instrumentalists in the country. As a performer, he played with popular musicians such as Isham Jones, Red Norvo, Eddie Duchin and Les Brown; classical performances included with the Radio City Music Hall Symphony, Mark Warnow (CBS), Jack Miller (NBC), Russ Case (RCA Victor Show) and various chamber ensembles.

MacKay led and played primarily with his nine-piece orchestra, which consisted of a woodwind quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horn) at its nucleus, together with a standard rhythm section (guitar, piano, bass, drums). The woodwind instrumentalists all doubled on saxophones and clarinets. Many of their arrangements straddle and blend a more jazz-heavy saxophone/clarinet sound with a classical woodwind quintet sonority. Their chief arranger was John Saunders, who was the pianist of the group, and who had the task of tastefully scoring popular music for classical orchestral instruments. A typical performance program included modern arrangements of classical composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, Debussy etc., and jazz tunes by Gershwin, Ellington and Porter.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Stuart MacKay Collection

Identifier: MS-0172
Scope and Contents

The Stuart MacKay Collection was gifted to the LaBudde Department of Special Collections in May 2010. The collection consists primarily of jazz and classical music arrangements by John Saunders for MacKay’s woodwind quintet and band. These manuscripts are undated and unpublished. Included also are copies of two published MacKay compositions, fake books, bassoon and woodwind scores, a theory textbook, and some promotional material and personal papers. Inclusive dates are 1938-1986.

Dates: 1938 - 1986