Winner of the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Music and founding dean of the California Institute of the Arts' music department.
He was a passionate baseball fan as a lad and dreamed of a career with the New York Yankees. He injured his hand playing baseball, however, and embraced music over sports as a result.
He struggled to complete Duplicates: A Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra because of his muscular dystrophy, which afflicted both his legs and arms. He ended up winning the Pulitzer for this work.
His older brother took him to see jazz pianist Teddy Wilson play, prompting him to pursue a career in jazz over one as a concert pianist.
He wrote arrangements for Earl Fatha Hines in 1939, one of his earliest professional gigs.