Five For Friday: Neal Hefti

I got today’s idea from Bernard Greenberg’s comment on my Song of the Day post, honoring Neal Hefti: "This is just a blues in G. All that seems original is the lead riff and the fitting of the word ‘Batman’. Don’t know much about Hefti’s work, but this was an easy meal. Sure, I remember the program." I hadn’t come up with anything yet, so I was on it like a shot.

As I mentioned in my post from earlier, from about 1950 to his death in 2008, Hefti concentrated on writing and arranging music, mostly for The Count Basie Orchestra. He also wrote theme songs and incidental music for movies and TV. For today, I’ve chosen five examples, three from films and two from Count Basie, as more of an introduction to his music.

  1. The Odd Couple: Used in both the 1968 movie starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau and the 1970 TV series starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. Couldn’t avoid the vocal on this…

  2. Girl Talk: From the 1965 biopic Harlow starring Carroll Baker. On the YouTube site someone commented that this song was used briefly in the movie, but that it has since become a standard.

  3. Virna: From another 1965 movie, How To Murder Your Wife, starring Jack Lemmon and Virna Lisi.

  4. Li’l Darlin’: A popular song for high school and college jazz bands, written in 1957 and appeared on Basie’s 1958 album The Atomic Mr. Basie. Jazz writer Donald Clarke says that this song is "an object lesson in how to swing at a slow tempo."

  5. Teddy The Toad: Also from The Atomic Mr. Basie. The album won two Grammys, Best Jazz Performance, Group and Best Performance by a Dance Band, at the first Grammy Awards in May, 1959.

Just about any album by Count Basie will have at least one Hefti composition on it, and in some cases all the songs were written by him. Lots of his songs are available on YouTube, if you feel up to playing a few.

Neal Hefti, your Five For Friday, October 29, 2021.

4 thoughts on “Five For Friday: Neal Hefti

  1. OK, I confess. This is really gorgeous, stylish, lush “Big Band” music from the time of both of our American childhoods (but Batman was an easy meal for such a composer!). Your knowledge of this now-off-the-beaten-path repertoire is deeply impressive,

    Liked by 1 person

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