Al Hirt: An Appreciation

Mike Blakesley

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My mom had the Honey in the Horn album and I was a big fan of the "Java" hit single.

I'd never heard Al Hirt's version of "Music to Watch Girls By" before... I agree it sounds more TJB-ish than the TJB does sometimes! I wonder, did Herb not record that song because everybody else found it first? Or did he turn it down?

A Herb Alpert/Al Hirt duets album might have been cool.


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Stranger In Paradise was a childhood favourite; Al is particularly memorable here. (Note: this melody was lifted from Alexander Borodin's Prince Igor opera. Borodin was one of The Mighty Handful of Russian composers from the late 1800s... His Symphony No.2 is mesmerizing.)


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JOv2--"Stranger in Paradise" is also a personal favorite of mine. Indeed, this melody was lifted from Prince Igor, as it was featured in the 1950s Broadway musical "Kismet" starring the renown actor/singer Richard Kiley. He is most famous for his portrayal of Don Quixote in the Broadway musical "The Man of La Mancha". It includes his stirring vocal of "The Impossible Dream".


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I don't know what it is about Al Hirt, but for some reason, he never really did anything for me. His song "Java" was, of course, everywhere, and I always liked the sound of that one. His other stuff always flew under my radar. I own many records by many artists, but there's not a single Al Hirt side anywhere in my collection.

[I take that back: "Java" is on an instrumental compilation I own.]


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My first exposure to Al Hirt's music was the RCA lp The best of Al Hirt" which was altered for CD retitled All time Greatest hits which in my opinion should have had all the same songs on "The Best of" plus the other songs maybe a 2 cd set would've been better to accommodate everything nevertheless it opened the door for me to discover a few more of his albums which became some of my favorites too


¡Que siga la fiesta!
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I had picked up Honey in the Horn in a $2 LP bin--I liked a lot of those tracks right out of the gate. Our Man in New Orleans was next, part of a two-fer (with Honey, if I'm not mistaken). Two different sides of Al Hirt that I liked. And I've been picking up the stray album every now and then, and it's all been good.
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