Miles Goodman, composer of music for films and innovative producer of recordings by major artists such as composer Stephen Sondheim, has died. He was 47.
Goodman collapsed Friday at his Brentwood home and was pronounced dead at St. John’s Hospital and Medical Center in Santa Monica of a heart attack.
Last year Goodman co-produced the highly praised jazz album “Color and Light: Jazz Sketches of Sondheim” featuring jazz artists--and the reclusive composer himself--interpreting Sondheim music.
Typically, Goodman knew just what to do to make Sondheim comfortable, limiting the session to the producer, engineer and Sondheim, and banning photographers and guests.
“I just had an intuitive feeling that it was the only way he’d do it,” Goodman told The Times. “And that was it. He showed up on time, with the music in his hands, sat down at the piano and played it.”
The album was named one of the year’s top five albums by Time magazine and reached No. 6 on Billboard’s jazz charts.
Born in Los Angeles, Goodman graduated from Antioch College in Ohio with a degree in English, and then studied Shakespeare in London. Despite his strong and eclectic taste in jazz and other music, Goodman planned to become a director.
But in conversations with his cousin, Academy Award-winning composer Johnny Mandel, composing for film intervened. Goodman returned to Los Angeles and studied music and film scoring with private teachers including Albert Harris.
“He started from ground zero, [learning] ‘This is a middle C,’ and became . . . a great musician,” said Oscar Castro-Neves, Goodman’s co-producer on the Sondheim album and partner for three decades. “He was a very inspired composer with a great ability to write melodies and a great orchestral talent.”
Goodman assisted Mandel by orchestrating music for the films “Being There” and “The Verdict.”
He also orchestrated or scored music for “Footloose,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “La Bamba,” “What About Bob?” and the yet-to-be-released “ ‘Til There Was You” and “Larger Than Life.”
When a friend suggested to Goodman that he try producing records, he conceived an album of contemporary Brazilian music with harmonica great Toota Toots Thielemans titled “The Brasil Project.” After two more albums with Thielemans, Goodman arranged a dozen songs by legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday. “The Billie Holiday Songbook,” featuring trumpeter Terence Blanchard, was a hit with critics and customers.
Goodman had also completed work on several albums scheduled for release next year featuring such artists as cellist Yo-Yo Ma, soprano Kathleen Battle and pianist Ottmar Leibert.
Goodman is survived by a son, Dylan; a daughter, Makenna Goodman; a brother and sister, Leonard Goodman and Cynthia Greenbaum, and his longtime companion Carie Frazier.
A public memorial service is planned for 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Writers Guild Theater in Los Angeles.
The family has asked that any memorial donations be given to the Miles Goodman Scholarship Fund at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.