Brad Dechter is an orchestrator, arranger, composer, saxophonist and teacher who has been a professional musician since 1971 and an active participant of the Hollywood recording industry since 1981. A native of Los Angeles, he grew up in a musical family in which his father Ted, himself a noted classical and big band trombonist as well as a beloved local music teacher, was his primary influence and teacher. Originally playing clarinet and then progressing to saxophone and flute, Brad gained valuable experience performing with symphonies, big bands and various other groups before attending Yale University, where he received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees.
Primarily working in motion pictures, he has orchestrated or arranged all or parts of over 230 feature films with such composers as James Newton Howard, John Debney, Marc Shaiman, Mark Isham, James Horner, Jerry Goldsmith and Trevor Jones. These films include the Academy Award-nominated scores for “The Fugitive,” “The Prince of Tides,” “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” “The Village,” “The Passion of the Christ,” “Defiance,” “Michael Clayton” and “The First Wives Club,” the Golden Globe-nominated score to “The Last of the Mohicans” as well as audience favorites “City Slickers,” “The Dark Knight,” “Bruce Almighty,” “The Sixth Sense,” “Pretty Woman” and “Dave.” He has worked on numerous television shows including the series “Moonlighting,” for which he was nominated for 2 Emmy awards for his arranging work, and “The West Wing,” for which he arranged and orchestrated its Emmy-winning title theme for composer W.G. “Snuffy” Walden. He was the lead arranger for the 2009 and 2010 Primetime Emmy Awards show as well as an arranger for the Academy Awards telecast for the same years. In 2006 he arranged and orchestrated the new music for The CBS Evening News With Katie Couric.
His arrangements and orchestrations are also showcased in numerous diverse record albums, including his wife Maureen’s debut album, “Songs of a Mother’s Love,” and those featuring such artists as Chris Botti, Josh Groban, Barbara Streisand, Sir Elton John, Johnny Mathis, Jack Jones, John Denver, Seal, Cy Coleman, Jim Self, McCoy Tyner, Al Jarreau, Placido Domingo, Renee Olstead and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London. Most recently, along with Marc Shaiman, he arranged and conducted several selections for Mariah Carey’s 2010 Christmas album. He has composed various concert works including a jazz piano concerto and a jazz oboe concerto as well as a Christmas work for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. He is currently orchestrating the only recent three-act American ballet composed for a major ballet company, that being “Tom Sawyer,” composed by Tony-award winning Maury Yeston for the Kansas City ballet and set to premier in October 2011.
As a saxophonist, he studied with jazz legend George Coleman (of the Miles Davis Quintet fame) and has played with jazz greats Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Ventura, Bill Holman, Bill Berry, Toshiko Akyoshi and Ray Anthony (with whose band he met his singer/wife Maureen when both were performing at Disneyland in 1981!). He is currently leader of the Brad Dechter Octet, a group featuring luminaries of the Southern California jazz world (including his wife Maureen and son Graham), and co-leader (with saxophonist/arranger Roger Neumann) of the group Sopranos and Strings featuring 2 soprano saxes, 2 guitars and bass, featuring Graham Dechter & Jim Fox on guitars and Chuck Nenneker on bass.
Devoted to furthering the musical traditions of which he has so enjoyed, Brad has recently been an instructor at the USC film scoring program as well as teaching privately and also serving as librarian and board member for the San Luis Obispo Youth Symphony.