Tag Archives: Al Hirt

Three under the tree, Day 7

Today, we find three under the tree in the wind section.

Two of the three selections are from Christmas records that are proof that that MOR can be less. No wonder the friendly gent at the Book Cellar in Waupaca, Wisconsin, virtually gave them away.

I tried to like these old records. However, the easy listening was anything but easy. That said, there is at least one small gem on each of them.

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Trumpet: “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town,” Al Hirt, from “The Sound of Christmas,” 1965. It’s out of print.

Imagine a Christmas tune for go-go dancers. It’s a bit adventurous. Even so, it’s one of the more coherent cuts from the pop side of this album, which otherwise mashes too many ideas with too many bland, cookie-cutter choruses. Side 2 showcases Hirt’s elegant horn in more traditional orchestral and vocal arrangements of familiar Christmas hymns.

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Saxophone: “Jingle Bells,” Boots Randolph, from “Boots and Stockings,” 1969. It’s out of print.

Randolph plays it safe on almost every cut on this album. But not “Jingle Bells,” fortunately. After he gets the easy listening vocals out of the way, Randolph cuts loose in the last minute. He improvises a swinging groove not heard on any other cut on the record.

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Clarinet: “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” Pete Fountain, from “A Creole Christmas,” 1990. This is a compilation CD that, though also out of print, is much in demand under the tree at this time of year.

This cut is smooth all the way through. If you like your Nawlins music with a lazy, smoky vibe, you’ll dig the first half of this tune. If you like your Nawlins music as swinging riverboat jazz, you’ll dig the the second half of this tune. Either way, it’s classy, with no smooching sounds like the ones that render Hirt’s version of this tune unlistenable.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2008, Sounds

Me and the crate diggers

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Every six months or so, they have a modest record show in one of the meeting rooms of a downtown hotel here in Green Bay. It rolled around again Saturday, and it was the highlight of my day.

It’s nice to be in a room full of people with the same interests (and, largely, the same color of hair — gray or graying). That said, I’m a rank amateur compared to some of the folks at the show.

I hadn’t heard record collectors described as “crate diggers” until I started regularly visiting Larry Grogan’s Funky 16 Corners, a fabulous place to find vintage, obscure and terrific soul, R&B and funk. Larry digs through crates for those great 45s, as did a fair number of folks at the show.

(To see how a professional does it, Jamison Harvey over at the new and excellent Flea Market Funk also went crate digging on Saturday.)

I’m more of an LP and CD guy, but I still spent two hours digging through those crates, trying to find things on a fairly short wish list. Lots of familiar sights and great memories as I dug through the crates.

The LPs I’d hoped to find but did not: Either “Down In The Boondocks” or “Cherry Hill Park” by Billy Joe Royal (especially the latter), anything by The Royal Guardsmen, “The Jungle Book” soundtrack from the 1967 Disney movie and an album of 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks basketball highlights.

The LPs I fleetingly considered buying, but did not: Cheech and Chong’s first album, the “Mannix” original soundtrack by Lalo Schifrin and an album of 1967 St. Louis Cardinals baseball highlights.

The LPs that came home: “Mystery To Me” by Fleetwood Mac, “Whipped Cream and Other Delights” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, the “Hawaii Five-O” original soundtrack by Morton Stevens and “The Horn Meets The Hornet” by Al Hirt. (Plus the first Van Halen album on CD.)

Not bad for $7.

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I just had to buy the Al Hirt after finding it online a couple of months ago at Check The Cool Wax. You know the theme to “The Green Hornet” — a jazzed-up take on Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee.” It’s on this 1966 album, as are Hirt’s covers/interpretations of popular TV theme songs of the day. They’re described on the back cover as “Al Hirt Plays TV Themes of Intrigue.”

Well, it is intriguing to ponder who thought it was a good idea to do the theme from “The Monkees” as a big-band swing tune. The theme from “Batman,” fares a little better, with Hirt’s trumpet riffing high above a fairly faithful arrangement of Neal Hefti’s classic piece.

As always, you be the judge.

“(Theme From) The Monkees,” Al Hirt, from “The Horn Meets The Hornet,” 1966.

“Batman Theme,” Al Hirt, from “The Horn Meets The Hornet,” 1966.

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Filed under April 2007, Sounds

My inner 9-year-old is buzzed

News item: Columbia Pictures is planning to make a movie based on “The Green Hornet.”

Exciting news for someone who loved “The Green Hornet” when it aired on ABC in 1966 and 1967.

Hope it happens. Not a good track record so far, though. At least two other big studios have tried and failed. The gent who’s producing this time is responsible for the “Fast and the Furious” and the “XXX” films. You be the judge on that.

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That’s Van Williams on the left. He played Britt Reid, a crusading newspaper editor who was the Green Hornet. For a kid who loved superheroes and newspapers, that was a great combination.

That’s Bruce Lee on the right. You know who he is. He played Kato.

You know the theme music, too. That’s Al Hirt on the trumpet.

Last month, the fine folks at Check the Cool Wax posted “The Horn Meets The Hornet,” an album full “popular TV themes of intrigue” by Al Hirt. He also covers/interprets the themes from “Batman,” “The Monkees” and “Get Smart.” You be the judge on that, too.

A couple of links to the zipped full-album download are here, after you scroll down to Feb. 8.

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“Green Hornet Theme,” Al Hirt, from “The Horn Meets The Hornet,” 1966.

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Filed under March 2007, Sounds like bull to me