Ettore Stratta, a conductor, producer, pianist and composer who worked within both the jazz and classical music realms, died July 9 at age 82. Stratta studied conducting at the conservatory in Rome as well as piano and composition, then left Italy for New York.
He landed a job in the A&R department of Columbia Records, where he produced hundreds of recordings including titles by Barbra Streisand, Dave Brubeck, Tony Bennett, Nini Rosso, Andy Williams and others, and produced foreign language recordings of Broadway musicals. He had his own orchestra called Fantasy Strings and made more than 25 recordings of some of the American Songbook’s greatest compositions.
Stratta produced symphonic recordings that included such jazz artists as Al Jarreau, Dori Caymmi, Hubert Laws and Paquito D’Rivera, while also conducting for the London Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, St Lukes Symphony Orchestra, L’ Orchestra de Lille in France and many more. He was involved in many other jazz-classical recordings, working with artists such as Stephane Grappelli, Lena Horne, Dave Grusin, Ramsey Lewis, Nancy Wilson, Hank Jones, Toots Thielemans, Dick Hyman, Michel Legrand and many others.
Stratta was also a prolific composer-his “Forget the Woman” recorded by Tony Bennett and many others.
Stratta served as musical director in England for major concerts with Gregory Hines, Nancy Wilson, Stephane Grappelli, Vic Damone, Michel Legrand, Rita Coolidge and others. He also presented concerts starring Stephane Grappelli, George Shearing’s 80th, Thielemans, D’Rivera and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s last major concert, plus a series of Brazilian music projects called “All Jobim and More.”