Torrie Zito

Torrie Zito ( born October 12, 1933, Utica (New York); † 3, 2009 in New York City ) was an American pianist, composer and arranger in the field of jazz, classical and popular music. He was especially known for his work with various musicians such as Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra and John Lennon, Sinéad O'Connor and Clay Aiken.

Life and work

Zito comes from a musical family; His father played the piano as accompaniment of silent films; his brother Freddie was the trombone with Charlie Barnet and Stan Kenton. He first played the flute and trumpet, then moved to the piano, on which he is self-taught and began as a jazz pianist in the context of bebop under the influence of Bud Powell. In 1957/58 he studied composition with Vittorio Giannini at the Manhattan School of Music and received private lessons with Marion Evans. After a tour with the singer Jerry Vale, he worked from the late 1950s in New York as a freelance musician, including in the studios for the production of jingles.

In the early 1960s he wrote for albums by Cannonball Adderley, James Moody ( Moody With Strings, 1961), worked as an arranger for Morgana King (A Taste of Honey, 1964), Quincy Jones, Perry Como ( Lightly Latin, 1966) and for Herbie Mann (String album, 1967). During this time he also worked for Les Double Six, Billy Eckstine, Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand. 1967 Tony Bennett hired him as a touring pianist, musical director and at times as an arranger; Zito worked the next seven years, along with Bennett. In the late 1960s he worked for John Lennon at the orchestration whose album Imagine.

After his time with Bennett Zito worked primarily with his wife, singer Helen Merrill, together; he can be heard as a pianist on her album with Stan Getz ( Just Friends, 1989) and arranged among others their Clifford Brown Brownie Homage (1994) and their album Carousel ( 1996) with songs by the Finnish composer Heikki Sarmanto. Most recently, he was heard on her album Lilac Wine (2002) with Lew Soloff and George Mraz. . Among his later works include arrangements for pop singers like Carly Simon (Film Noir, 1997) and George Michael Songs From the Last Century 1999 His last major work before his death was Clay Aiken's album Merry Christmas With Love (2004); last he drove a 2008 arrangement to Tony Bennett's album A Swingin 'Christmas (with the Count Basie band ) at.

As a composer, he is heavily influenced by the impressionist composers such as Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Gabriel Fauré; so he wrote a Concert Waltz for Harp and String Orchestra, and the Divertimento for Clarinet and Strings. In the area of the crossover, he also worked with the classical clarinetist Sabine Meyer and Eddie Daniels. He also wrote the jazz compositions "Lisa" ( for Cannonball Adderley ), and " Somerset " and " A Summer Thing" for Zoot Sims.


  • Richard Cook & Brian Morton: The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings, 8th Edition, London, Penguin, 2006 ISBN 0-14-102327-9