Our Man in New Orleans - Al Hirt

Al Hirt
“Our Man in New Orleans." This album takes Hirt's small Dixieland ensemble and punches it up with a big band comprised entirely of brass. The arrangements are short, without a lot of room for the group to stretch out. Still, they manage to play some real Dixieland and the arrangements are quite effective.

There's no way to do justice to Al Hirt's sound. It's bold and open, with astonishing technical finesse. He's perhaps a bit of a show-off, but who wouldn't be with a sound like that?

Recorded in Hollywood, California on September 4 & 5, 1962. Includes liner notes by Bob Blumenthal. Digitally remastered by Glen Kolotkin and James Nichols (1992, BMG Recording Studios, New York, New York).

Unlike most of his RCA recordings, this Al Hirt LP is a fairly freewheeling affair. Three of the dozen numbers feature the trumpeter with an expanded group from Jan. 26, 1962, but the bulk of the set finds him jamming with trombonist Jerry Hirt (his brother), clarinetist Pee Wee Spitelera, pianist Ronnie Dupont, bassist Lowell Miller and drummer Frank Hudoc in September 1962.

The dozen selections are brief (all under four minutes and eight under three), but do contain a good sampling of Hirt's powerful horn. Highlights of the Dixieland date include “Clarinet Marmalade," “Panama," “Wolverine Blues" and “Muskrat Ramble." The best track that features the driving big band sound is “Oh Dem Gloden Slippers," which starts off quiet with Hirt alone , then Pee Wee joins in then builds with the large band behind, just great.

Paul Cacia was Al Hirt's lead trumpet player and contracted the brass section for what Al Hirt called his dream band, formed in the fall of 1979. At the time of receiving the phone call to join Al Hirt, Paul Cacia was first trumpet for the Ray Anthony Orchestra, he immediately gave notice.

The Al Hirt Big Band was based out of Al's New Orleans Bourbon street nightclub, leaving for road tours, on and off, concert dates and a television show. The arrangements were by Billy May, Sammy Nestico and Mike Barone, It was a young fiery band. He was one of the first ones hired and the first one to give notice after 6 months on the road, his production company demands back in Burbank, studio work, plus the birth of his first child called him home, the road years were now behind him and his solo career ahead of him.

“'Jumbo' was truly a trumpet phenomenon, a one man trumpet section. He did things with a trumpet that just weren't on the horn, and it was my great privilege to say that I was his 1st trumpet player and his friend. I helped him form his dream band and we had a great time making great music together with some truly great musicians."

“The late great Al Hirt will always have a place in trumpet history as one of the truly great trumpet masters who could play circles around just about anyone!"

Personnel: Al Hirt (trumpet); Marty Paich (conductor); Jerry Hirt (trombone); Pee Wee Spitelera (clarinet); Ronnie Dupont (piano); Lowell Miller (bass); Frank Hudec (drums). Producer: Steve Sholes. Engineer: Al Schmitt.

Available on a single CD with HONEY IN THE HORN.

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