Jeff Hirshfield was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island. He started drum lessons while in elementary school, and in high school he had the opportunity to work with some of the great jazz players, including Zoot Sims, Ray Nance, Charlie McPhearson, and Clark Terry.
Except for lessons with Ed Soph and Latin percussionist Frankie Malabe, Hirshfield is essentially self-taught . He began an eleven-year stint of touring in 1977 with Mose Allison, Woody Herman, and several others. In 1988 he settled in New York City and began an active free-lance career and since performed and recorded with John Abercrombie, Fred Hersch, Randy Brecker, Jim Hall, Elaine Elias, John Zorn, Bob Belden and many others.