Neal Hefti » Music » Harry James Plays Neal Hefti

Harry James Plays Neal Hefti


MGM 1961
Mono M-536– Stereo MS-536

Composed, Arranged by NEAL HEFTI


Fountainebleau (San Souci)

Harry, Not Jesse

Hot Pinke

Koo Koo

Mister Johnson

Rainbow Kiss

Sunday Morning

The Creeper

Tweet Tweet

Composing an entire record for any artist is, to say the least, exciting. When this excitement is multiplied by the fact that it’s for a top artist, you glow; and when it’s also for a top recording company, you experience weightlessness.

We started out by going to Las Vegas and discussing the project with Harry James for two days. The band was at The Flamingo at the time. I then went home and started thinking – sketching – erasing – tearing up – thinking - sketching – erasing – tearing up, etc., until I had twenty-three themes written. I then scored the ones that I thought would make the best-balanced record – from slow tempos (Rainbow Kiss) to medium (Hot Pink and The Creeper) to mainstream jazz (Mister Johnson, Harry, Not Jesse, Tweet Tweet and Koo Koo) to Gospel (Sunday Morning) to Latin (Fontainebleau and Chiarina). The reaction from Harry and the band was sensational, and I breathed a sigh of relief for the first time in a month.

Then I waited for the band to come to Hollywood for the recording sessions with the eager anticipation I had felt waiting for my first pair of long pants. They did come, and they did record. In fact, they recorded the whole record in one sitting! The session started at 8.00 P.M. and finished at 4.00 A.M. the next day. It was going so well that Harry didn’t want to stop and return for a second session the next day as is generally done. Everybody, knowing that a great disc had been made, was pleasantly tired when it was over. In fact, Harry James played Neal Hefti, and everybody won. My sincere thanks to all the players.


Harry James, Rob Turk, Harold Billings, Nick Buono, Verne Guertin (trumpets); Ray Sims, Dick Hyde (trombones); Dick McQuary (bass trombone); Willie Smith, Pat Chartrand, Sam Firmature, Modesto Briseno, Ernie Small (saxophones); Jack Perciful (piano); Terry Rosen (guitar); Tony De Nicola (drums); Russ Phillips (bass).