[Dixielandjazz] Al Hirt - Bio - "Jazz Musician or Pop Player?

mmckay macjazz at se.rr.com
Wed Jan 24 14:12:45 PST 2007

"Pops" goes the trumpet. RCA Victor LP LSC 2729


Martin D. McKay, Designated Listener 

-----Original Message-----
From: dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com
[mailto:dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com] On Behalf Of Fr M J (Mike)
Sent: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 4:28 PM
To: m - DJML
Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Al Hirt - Bio - "Jazz Musician or Pop Player?

I recall there was a Time-Life LP of his playing one of (I think) Haydn's
trumpet symphonies/concertos.  I've been meaning to do some eBay searching
for it, but haven't gotten around to it.  I recall (I was in college at the
time) that it struck me as sounding less like a classical horn than a jazz
horn playing classical, which is all right, as I get the same feeling
listening to Goodman play classical.  Crossover versatility is certainly my

Fr M J (Mike) Logsdon, Vicar-general
North American Old Roman Catholic Church (Utrecht Succession) Archdiocese of
California www.naorc.org

> -----Original Message-----
> From: dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com
> [mailto:dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com]On Behalf Of Steve 
> Barbone
> Sent: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 1:28 PM
> To: DJML
> Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Al Hirt - Bio - "Jazz Musician or Pop Player?
> I am surprised no one picked up on the Al Hirt quote a few posts ago. 
> What did he think? See the last paragraph of this Bio for the full quote.
> Just goes to show what taking things out of context can do. BTW, he 
> considered his solo "Ave Maria" for Pope John Paul II during the 
> Pope's visit to New Orleans as his most important work.
> Cheers,
> Steve Barbone
>   Alois Maxwell Hirt (New Orleans, 1922 - 1999), subject of the 2000 
> New Orleans Jazz Festival poster by George Rodrigue, got his first 
> trumpet from a pawn shop when he was six. By 17, he was calling the 
> horses to post at the same Fairgrounds where he was to play many New 
> Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festivals and, 60 years and one racing season 
> later, have a Jazz Funeral held in his honor.
>   Trained in classical music at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, 
> he played in the 82nd Army Air Force Band before joining the great 
> swing bands led by Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Ray McKinley and Benny 
> Goodman. He returned to New Orleans in the early 50's, forming his own 
> band with Pete Fountain (subject of Rodrigue's 1996 New Orleans Jazz 
> Festival poster) with whom he worked as an exterminator; killing pests 
> together by day and playing music together at night. Whomever got the 
> gig was the leader that night and entitled to wear a bow tie on stage. 
> They played together on and off for more than 50 years, with their 
> bands touring jointly every summer until Al's health began to fail in 
> 1998.
>   He came to national prominence in 1960 when his Dixieland Six played 
> Las Vegas. Every bit the showman, the 6-foot-2-inch 300-pounder, 
> nicknamed "Jumbo", caught the attention of Dinah Shore, beginning a TV 
> career that spanned 28 years. That year, Hirt signed with RCA records, 
> ultimately recording more than 50 albums, four of which went gold and one,
> Hirt's "pop" hit singles include Cotton Candy and Java, for which he 
> won a Grammy for best non-jazz instrumental in 1964.
>   He garnered 21 Grammy nominations; played at the inauguration of 
> President John F. Kennedy (one of eight U.S. Presidents for whom he 
> performed); toured the world, including a 1965 standing room only 
> concert at Carnegie Hall; headlined the half-time show at the first 
> Super Bowl in 1967, one of 5 Super Bowl programs which included him; 
> and was voted World's Top Trumpeter for 15 consecutive years in the 
> Playboy Jazz Poll beginning in 1962. In 1987, Hirt played a trumpet 
> solo of Handel's "Ave Maria" for Pope John Paul II during the 
> Pontiff's visit to New Orleans, a performance he considered one of his 
> most important. Between 1962 and 1990, he appeared in seven films and 
> headlined on numerous television shows, including his own program, 
> "Fanfare"
> on CBS in 1965.
>   In his obituary by Associated Press writer Kent Prince, Hirt's 
> talent was summarized as follows: "His driving power, packed with 
> dazzling virtuosity, seemed to blow the curtains at the back of the 
> auditorium, but when the tempo slowed, the honey-toned melodies flowed 
> with a style all his own."
> Pete Fountain added "He had everything-technique, stamina, education." 
> Hirt acknowledged being influenced by Louis Armstrong, Harry James and 
> Frank Sinatra. Armstrong (subject of the 1995 Jazz Festival poster by 
> Rodrigue), always made an effort to catch Jumbo's performances 
> whenever their touring paths crossed.
>   Hirt, who stayed close to home so he could fish and be with his wife 
> and eight children, summed up his own career, "I'm a pop commercial 
> musician, and I've got a successful format. If you have the ability to 
> perform your musical idea, you become a good jazz player. Any 
> performer can think of a musical idea. Only a well-schooled artist can 
> produce the idea on his horn."
> This advice for budding musicians adds to the legacy that this 
> legendary virtuoso leaves behind.
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