Sascha Burland

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This artist's name shows up in credits as both Granville Burland and Sascha Burland, and as for the music he wrote, it was heard just about anywhere and everywhere in the '50s and '60s. His main interest…
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Artist Biography by

This artist's name shows up in credits as both Granville Burland and Sascha Burland, and as for the music he wrote, it was heard just about anywhere and everywhere in the '50s and '60s. His main interest was jazz, but he did not choose to work only within that genre. He was more of a missionary, almost to the point of being subversive, landing advertising-jingle contracts for which he could bring in swinging players and arrangers such as Quincy Jones, Art Farmer, or the talented jazz singer Osie Johnson, who chimed in for products such as Nestle and Flit.

While participation in such ventures goes largely unacknowledged by the general public, there were also plenty of opportunities for this composer's name to flash across a television screen when it was time for the credits to roll. He wrote the theme for the extremely popular game show What's My Line?, for example. Another of his songs that started out as a commercial for stomach medicine, "No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach Is In)" became a radio hit as well, covered by more than a dozen artists including the Ventures. Other Burland titles emerge on Latin and pure jazz releases as well, his co-writing partners tending to be impressive. "West Coast Blues" is credited to Burland and guitarist Wes Montgomery, neither of whom could apparently come up with a better title. Maybe Burland was saving his creative chops for his partnership with Don Elliot, with whom he created a pair of novelty records originally attributed to the Nutty Squirrels.

Such outbursts of silly behavior seem at odds with certain facts about Burland. He was an ex-Marine whose favorite musicians were technically flashy but by-the-book guitarists, such as Barney Kessel and George Van Eps. Burland entered music as a piano student, eventually studying with Barry Galbraith and finding steady work in both radio and television involving his developing talents in the overlapping areas of production, composing, playing and even singing.

His success is a clear demonstration of the importance of bucking prevailing opinion in the commercial music business at any given time. Burland, of course, was told early and often that there was no place for sophisticated musical ideas in the world of advertising. He proved his doubters wrong, and has come to be considered one of the great pioneers in expanding the audience for jazz, representing progress from the days when his name was more likely to come up in conjunction with indigestion.