If a man were known by the company
he keeps, Hal Schaefer would be a household name.
Schaefer's list of associates reads like a who's who
of music. Benny Carter, Billy Eckstine, Peggy Lee,
Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey, Vic Damone, Judy Garland,
and Harry James, among others, have all made use of
this extraordinary musician.
Born in New York, Hal Schaefer began
his musical training at age six and has continued
extensive studies in composition, orchestration, and
keyboard throughout his career.
Following his professional beginnings
as pianist for numerous "name" bands (including
Harry James and the Dorsey brothers), Schaefer became
accompanist/conductor for Peggy Lee , Vic Damone,
and Billy Eckstine. He was later chosen by 20th Century
Fox to devise and arrange the music for production
numbers in many of their major films and also served
as vocal coach for Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, and
During the late fifties, Schaefer
returned to New York to become head of A&R for
the then newly formed United Artists label, and became
one of the industry's first independent producers.
During the sixties and early seventies, Schaefer free-lanced
on the East Coast recording, composing,orchestrating,
and performing in a variety of contexts.
Schaefer returned to the West Coast
in 1975 and was brought to my attention by Benny Carter,
one of Hal's biggest boosters. A gig at Donte's (one
of the major jazz strongholds in Southern California)
was arranged, Hal chose old friend and associate Alvin
Stoller to play drums, and I suggested the super-talented
Fred Atwood to play bass. We called in Rod Nicas to
do the taping, and the happy results are inside.
The music is swinging and clear cut
with Schaefer displaying extraordinary warmth and
sensitivity along with his superb technique. The tunes
are all timeless standards, and afford ample opportunity
to stretch out. Although there are many bright moments,
Hal's solo treatment of Yesterdays is particularly
noteworthy. Fred Atwood is outstanding throughout
(dig his solo on I Can't Get Started), and
Alvin Stoller provides strong, imaginative support.
This is the definitive album to date
by Hal Schaefer. Try it, you'll like it.
Recorded live at Donte's in North Hollywood March
Produced by Dennis Smith and Albert Marx