[Dixielandjazz] Ever heard someone who sounded like Al Hirt?

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Thu Sep 8 17:09:27 PDT 2005

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dan Ostler" <dan_ostler at hotmail.com>
To: <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2005 5:55 PM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Ever heard someone who sounded like Al Hirt?

> In a word. No.
> sad that
> he's gone, and sadder still that he is not remembered. I'd love to play
> that for one afternoon.

I'd say he's remembered, just not by anyone who either isn't really into
trumpet or doesn't have an awareness of the pop music world of the 60's &
early 70's. Certainly not by the teeny bopper crowd who don't have any
awareness that anything happened outside the 30 seconds they've been aware
of anything.

An excellent album of his that may have escaped notice is "Horn A Plenty"
from '63. An amazing album on the RCA label. It featured an all-star band,
first rate production and fantastic arrangements by Billy May. Totally
non-dixie, mostly standards and show tunes. I don't think he ever did
another album quite like it. I could be wrong but my sense is that it didn't
sell that well, though copies seem to be fairly readily available at vintage
record outlets and eBay. It remains among my favorite things to listen to
and was the first Al Hirt recording I ever heard. Al was at the top of his
game and absolutely plays his ass off.  I don't think it's ever been
released on CD. I'd love to hear the master tapes, which I hope are still

The first cut on the album is "Holiday For Trumpet" which as I understand it
was a reworked version of a tune called "Brassman's Holiday". It's sort of
similar in character to "Holiday For Strings" but with far more gusto.  The
story I heard was that Hirt read it down once at the session and then they
recorded it. If that's true, it's pretty amazing since it's not an easy
chart, nor for that matter is the band's part. He used it as a theme song
for a while.

I don't think I could pick a favorite off the album but "Memories Of You" is
kind of an encapsulated example of what Al was all about. In the intro he
fires off this incredible stream of notes that are so lyrical and precise,
then he pulls up and segue's  into some of the nicest ballad playing you've
ever heard, alternating with amazing, robust soaring.

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