Neal Hefti » Music » Lil’ Darlin’



20th Century-Fox 1964
Mono TFM-3139 – Stereo TFS-4139

Composed, Arranged, Conducted by NEAL HEFTI



Late Date

Li'l Darlin'

Nice To Be With You

Pensive Miss


Rose Bud


Should I Or Shouldn't I

Sunday Morning

Congratulations for buying this album. It proves you know good music and you like good music. It also proves your faith in “mane brands” – because where particular people swing, the name “Neal Hefti” is rated the best of the brands. dot On the off chance that you really don’t know anything about music and the Hefti name means nothing whatsoever to you (yet) – well, you’ve just bought the luckiest accident that’s ever happened to you . . . and maybe now you should go to the track or investigate a deck of cards because you’re running in luck. You’ve picked a winner. dot This music is about the best present you could give yourself. It introduces a Neal Hefti who hasn’t been heard before. A Hefti who writes melodies – marvelous melodies – songs. Although the lyrics aren’t heard here, each of these compositions is a song. (You’ll get the chance to hear the words in future recordings, when some of the well-known singers for whom Neal has conducted and arranged in the past stop fighting over Who records What first.) In this album – conducted and arranged by composer Hefti – two dozen violins, troops of flutes and what is probably the most hip harpsichord in history, do the “singing” and the swinging. dot It’s a new sound, but then Neal has always been known as an innovator, from his earliest days playing trumpet and arranging for Charlie Barnet, Charlie Spivak, Woody Herman, Charlie Ventura – and of course, the fine things he did for the Basie band. This new sound will undoubtedly be stolen. If you’re a musician, you may well be the first to steal it. While I can’t condone this type of larceny, I must admit your taste is beautiful. Stealing from Hefti has been a status symbol for years. dot Those with whom Neal has worked will tell you how great he is. Peggy Lee will tell you. Frank Sinatra will tell you. But this time, let me tell you. Not only am I one of the 82,547 world’s foremost-professional-authorities-on-music, I am Neal’s friend. I’m not sure, but just maybe as his friend I’d be tempted to say he was good even if he weren’t. But isn’t it wonderful to have a friend you can’t possibly tell a lie about? dot Let’s get personal: for twenty years the jazz world has been calling Neal a “Musicians Musician,” and “Arranger’s Arranger” and other such complimentary redundancies. From these accolades you’d figure that One: He’s a combination hipster and scholarly musicologist who probably wears a goatee. Two: That goatee is grey because he has been on the scene for so many years. dot The facts are that Neal is “hip” without being “hipster.” His music is self-taught and he has kept on teaching himself since the day he packed his trumpet and left his hometown (Hastings, Nebraska). He wouldn’t wear a goatee even if his beautiful wife (former band singer Frances Wayne) would let him (which she won’t), and he just turned forty . . . a milestone rubbed in with much hilarity by his friends while Neal snarled and made threats. So you see, he’s an outrageously average sort of a guy . . . for a genius. dot Genius he is. That can be said without prejudice. That can be heard – just listen to the ingenious arranging – the juicy humor – that Neal has put into “Duet.” “Duet” has been a swinging staple for the Basie band for years. Now Neal has taken those driving jazz ingredients and pitted them against a slyly dignified minuet. As Neal’s producer-publisher Budd Granoff describes it: “It sounds as if the cast of “West Side Story” crashed a bash Marie Antoinette was giving.” dot Listen to the leisurely loveliness of “li’l Darlin’” (written for his daughter Marguerita, now a lovely, but far from leisurely 14 year-old. Happily, however, she’s out of the rock ‘n’ roll stage). And listen to “Should I or Shouldn’t I,” the luxurious strings, the simple yet beautiful melody line. (Neal has written his own lyrics to this one.) With the Basie band, Neal feels he was identified with the school of gospel-oriented music known as “shout.” He was afraid the “shout” tag would type-cast him unjustly. He needn’t have worried, but do listen to “Sunday Mornin’” – a softly shimmering “shout” if ever a “shout” softly shimmered. dot Listen to Cute, Pensive Miss, Late Date, and Rosebud – and then get set to listen to more and more Neal Hefti. You’ll be hearing more Hefti via movie scores, musicals – and most important: songs. Remember the name: Hefti. He’s my Friend, the Melody-Writer.