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Al Hirt

A virtuoso on the trumpet, Al Hirt was often "overqualified" for the Dixieland and pop music that he performed. He studied classical trumpet at the Cincinnati Conservatory (1940-1943) and was influenced by the playing of Harry James. He freelanced in swing bands (including both Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, and Ray McKinley) before returning to New Orleans in the late '40s and becoming involved in the Dixieland movement. He teamed up with clarinetist Pete Fountain on an occasional basis from 1955 on, and became famous by the end of the decade. An outstanding technician with a wide range, along with a propensity for playing far too many notes, Hirt had some instrumental pop hits in the 1960s. He also recorded swing and country music, but mostly stuck to Dixieland in his live performances. He remained a household name throughout his career, although one often feels that he could have done so much more with his talent. Hirt's early Audiofidelity recordings (1958-1960) and collaborations with Fountain are the most rewarding of his long career; he died at his home in New Orleans on April 27, 1999. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi
full bio

Comments

eeprof4
Discovered Hirt in '57 and tried to immulate him for the next 10 years with my small 6 piece group by playing many of his arrangements . A careful listen to Al leads me to believe that he was influenced by the old Arban method book to a great extent in his rides.
No question one of the most identifiable sounds of any trumpet player. You hear the first 3 notes and know it's him. In high school I debated with a fellow trumpet player in our band who was better between Hirt and Doc Severinson. I lobbied for Doc, and my buddy, who was our lead trumpet argued vociferously for Hirt. I still lean toward the Doc, but there is no question, Al Hirt is one of the all-time best!
rchristoff24
The feeling he played with is unbelieveabl e saw him live on his club he talked through his horn the king I have been playing trumpet for over 50 years no one will ever convey their personality through an instrument like he did. He is missed
Fantastic musician.
Al signed my Al Hirt Leblanc trumpet with an electric etcher. I'm still playing that horn. The fact that he touched it inspires me every time I pick it up. What a great man and musician.
Yanow is the author of the review above...
lstephenson1 7 8
Who is Yanow?
coljimclark
I worked for Jumbo 1964-65 during the pinnacle of his career. I've seen him perform over 200 times. He could bring tears to my eyes with the way he could play the trumpet. A generous and fun guy. I agree with McNeill - Yanow doesn't know squat of which he writes.
booksnheels
I had the honor of sitting in his living room and listening to him just play ..... he was truly amazing ! And had a great sense of humor and it came thur in some of his music so well.
ONE HELL OF A HORN PLAYER
mcneill_dave
I consider this so-called bio to be one of the few things about which Pandora should be ashamed. Mr. Yanow is clearly unaware of the impact Al Hirt had on the music scene, and his personal opinions about too many notes sound like the overwhelmed and outclassed kapelmeister in Amadeus. This pathetic little paragraph is not a fitting tribute to one of the great musicians of our time.
Great influence on me as a military trumpet player
Without Al Hirt I probably would not have become a professional trumpter myself. Found him in the early 60's and have loved him ever since. Got to play with him while serving in the Air Force Band and almost peed my pants! What a guy! Some of the elitist trumpeters scoffed at his chosen musical path and improvising skills, but to me there was no equal. What do they know anyway.
brillex00
Happy Music! love this song!!!
There was nothing wrong with the musical direction he took. Dixieland Jazz is an upbeat jazz form which emhasizes melody improvisatio n as much as technical work with the instrument. Al Hirt was a master at both.
I still have Al Hirt LPs, for crying out loud. Guess I should get 'em transferred to digital. Al was one of the absolute best! Thank goodness we still have recordings - many thanks, Pandora.
Yes, Big Al - The King!! Indeed
potcaddict92
I grew up listening to my parent's Al Hirt album... when I found Man with a Horn on YouTube the years just melted away. I love his style.
eandjroe
I have my original albums of Al with the Boston Pops and Live at Carnegie Hall
I love this music!!!
He was the greatest!
stuartnance
I remember as kid of 8 or 9 watching Al Hirt playing "When the Saints Go Marching In" from the sidelines of the then brand-new New Orleans Saints games at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. I also remember walking by his and Pete Fountains' clubs on Bourbon Street (too young to gain admission)- awesome stuff!
Ray Peterson I was very luckey to have a song I wrote with Wayne Cogswell called Night Theme recorded by AL in his first Million seller album Honey in the Horn, He was the greatest. I met him many times and he was a true gentleman and one of the best.His music will always be with us all. God Bless
When I was 14 years old my parents gave me an Al Hirt Album with him playing with the Boston Pops. Playing my horn along with the record kept me out of trouble throughout my adolescent years. (Became a muscian of some noteriety but drove my parents nuts.) When Haydn's Trumpet Concerto in e flat popped up as one of my university site-reading tests, it felt neat to turn away from the sheet music and play Al's version from memory, including his cadenzas. Sure befuddled the examiner!
If any of you
As a kid, we had a copy of Al Hirt's concert with the Boston Pops which included a live version of his mega-hit, Java. I played the grooves off that record. His playing of the Flight of the Bumblebee was the short-live series Green Hornet's theme song. He was very big in the middle '60s, but then again he was always pretty big. Like many New Orleans musicians, he played what he liked, not what sold.
bgmakriswork
In our house it was Al Hirt vs Herb Albert...I loved them both. Glad to have grown up with their music over our stereo HiFi. Kids today dont know what they missed.
docmiltfried
One of our greatest trumpet players. Marvelous tone and technique.
FOR MY MONEY , THE BEST TRUMPET PLAYER OF ALL TIME- HE COULD DO SO MUCH WITH A HORN. I AM FROM NEW ORLEANS AND FOLLOWED "JUMBO" THRU-OUT HIS CAREER- ONE DAY IN THE EARLY 90"S RAN INTO HIM IN A LITTLE SEAFOOD RESTAURANT- HE WAS SO CHARMING- AND FUNNY- WE SAT , DRANK BEER AND ATE CRAWFISH TOGETHER- HE TOLD ME SOME WONDERFUL STORIES ABOUT HIS LIFE AND FRIENDS SUCH AS LOUIS ARMSTRONG AND LOUIS PRIMA- SOME WERE SO FUNNY I ALMOST CRIED- SOME OF THE FUNNIER ONES COULD NOT BE REPEATED IN THIS FORUM- JU
When I was in college, a friend that was very hip to the music trends of the day, gave me the album of "He the King, Al Hirt." I neary wore it out. What exciting music!
I would have loved to have seen Al Hirt and Harry James play together. they were both so great!
Al Hirt left the Glenn Miller Band (Ray McKinley director)in the mid '50's--My brother Jim Maxwell was hired on, leaving Hays, Kansas for North Dakota immediately thereafter-- r e m a i n e d with the band until living on the bus and so much travel caused back problems--re t u r n e d to Kansasin the early 60's--I never knew until just now that Al Hirt died 4/27/99--Jim died 12/31/99--Un u s u a l coincidence- - t h e y were briefly acquainted with mutual respect---
bigron476
Al Hirt was the very best. No one today can even come close to his clarity and range. I heard him play the Flight of the bumblebees live. What a treat!
kevin.mattav o u s
Al Hirt is my hero! Awesome range, clarity of tone and sharpness he was and is the best!!!!
kibesillah20 0 0 - w e b
Al Hirt also played the original theme from The Green Hornet, 'Flight of the bumblebee'.

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