British jazz composer and pianist Stan Tracey has died aged 86. Tracey was best known for Under Milk Wood, a 1965 suite based on Dylan Thomas's 1954 radio drama. Hailed as a key moment in British jazz, Tracey admitted the recording was packaged around Thomas's play to provide a hook for the record label. He later set up his own label, Steam, primarily to re-release Under Milk Wood, and to release his own music.
Tracey started out playing the accordion, and then began operating in the British jazz scene as a pianist around 1950. He worked with both commercial and jazz bands, notably the Ted Heath Band in the late 50s, where he also wrote some arrangements for Basil Kirchin. Into the 60s, he became a central figure in the scene, as a house pianist at Ronnie Scott's for eight years, playing alongside Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, Don Byas and many of the visiting American musicians of the time.