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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke


Greatest Hits
RCA 100 Years of Music
RCA 07863 69398-2

  1. Java
  2. Fools Rush In
  3. Cotton Candy
  4. Sugar Lips
  5. Walkin'With Mr. Lee
  6. I Can't Get Started
  7. Clarinet Marmalade
  8. Rumpus
  9. Easy To Love
  10. Paper Doll
  11. Fancy pants
  12. Tansy

On his own admission Al Hirt was not a jazz player, he was however a superb trumpet player with a first class technique and a huge fat sound. The kind of sound most trumpet players would die for. The USA has produced many such players and they have graced the lead trumpet chair in the bands of Count Basie, Woody Herman, Harry James and many more. Hirt himself played Lead Trumpet with the Benny Goodman Band as well as the bands of Ray McKinley and the Dorsey Brothers. Al had however, the magic ingredient of success, he was a master showman and this talent was wasted in a Big Band section.

This CD has tracks from many settings, he made thirty albums altogether and each track shows off his superb mastery of the instrument. It is strange that music produces players who, although they are not jazz players, because they don't improvise on the chord sequence as such, provide superb performances, because they can play by ear the jazz performances of other players and develop solos of their own and then play them from memory.

Al was a big man and a huge personality; it is easy to see why the TV and Show Time audiences in Nightclubs loved him. He was one of those people who can lift the spirits and are enormous fun to be with.

These kind of people and Eddie Calvert was the nearest equivalent in the UK, he had played lead with Ted heath before embarking on a career in variety, have disappeared from the scene and the world is a poorer place for it. You can gauge Al's enthusiasm just by listening to his signature tune Java and if you have any doubt about the technique listen to I can't get started.

The backings on the CD come from various bands organised by Marty Paich, Chet Atkins and Marty Manning. Well worth a listen.

Don Mather

Don Mather is a saxophone player and Bandleader in Coventry




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