Al Hirt

A phenomenally proficient trumpet player, Al Hirt was one of the most successful instrumental recording artists of the 1960s. Perhaps modeling his genial stage personality after Louis Armstrong, Hirt was a tremendously popular performer, easily capturing the center of attention with his massive 300-pound, 6-foot-2 frame (among his nicknames were “Jumbo” and “The Round Mound of Sound”) but holding it with his joyful spirit and jaw-dropping virtuosity.

Although Hirt came out of New Orleans leading a Dixieland band, he never let himself get stereotyped in that narrow genre. He was honest about his choice of style, never calling what he played “jazz”: “I'm a pop commercial musician,” he once said. “and I've got a successful format. I'm not a jazz trumpet and never was a jazz trumpet.”

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