Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Neal Hefti 1922-2008

I learnt yesterday of the death of trumpeter, composer and arranger Neal Hefti. Hefti is probably best know for composing one for composing the theme tune to the seminal 1960's TV show 'Batman'. You know the one:

It wasn't just theme tunes to camp American TV shows Hefti was known for. He was a fantastic arranger writing charts for such artists as Frank Sinatra, Buddy Rich and Harry James. His greatest achievement though was writing and arranging Count Basie's 1957 album 'Atomic Basie'. Including this fabulous track:

My dad first played me this album about 30 years ago and it made a jazz fan of me. As a trumpeter Hefti's arrangements were brass heavy as as such are punchy and sassy in equal measure and his arrangements Basie's band in particular were very sympathetic to his sound. 'The Kid From Red Bank' for example allowed Basie's sparse piano style shine through and on my personal favourite 'Fantail' he lets Frank Wess let rip with a soaring alto sax solo. Here is an old recording of another classic Hefti arrangement 'Whirly Bird'


Hefti died at his home in California on 11 October aged 85. He had not been actively involved with music for some time but he left a marvellous legacy. As Miles Davis once famously said if it wasn't for Neal Hefti the Basie band wouldn't have its trademark sound. If ever there was an epitaph that is as good as it gets.

1 comment:

Planet Mondo said...

Both tracks are crackers - and remind of proto-Flinstones themes - I can see why Barney Kessel would sometimes open with it (Flintstones that is)