Shelly was born June 11, 1921, in New York City and learned to love and play jazz, in the small clubs there. New York City Cross Country champion runner in high school, he went from there to the bands of Bobby Byre, Will Bradley, Raymond Scott and Les Brown, before going into the Coast Guard. After the war, he joined Stan Kenton, Charlie Ventura and Woody Herman, before moving to L.A., in 1951, where he was an in-demand, studio musician, composer of music for TV, stage, and movies and owner of the legendary jazz club, Shelly’s Manne Hole. He was a leader of his own group, for over 30 years, touring Europe and Japan frequently. He made hundreds of recordings, ranging from Mahalia Jackson to Henry Mancini and Ornette Coleman.
According to the Encyclopedia of Jazz, “Subjective listening confirms that he has remained a superlative musician, who can lift a quasi-jazz ensemble to undeserved rhythmic heights and whether with a trio or a vast studio orchestra, plays with an intelligence and sensitivity that can add fire, color and impetus to his environment.” He was not only a wonderful musician but; one of the wittiest and best, loved members of Local #47. He died September 26, 1984.
Shelly Manne was known to many as a musician who recognized and assisted younger musicians who were coming up in the business. For this reason, the “New Talent Award” presented each year in his memory at the Annual Tribute and Awards Concert is most appropriate.