The music of my father, Neal Hefti, has inspired me throughout my life; whether the iconic songs he wrote or arranged for the likes of Count Basie and Frank Sinatra, or the classic movie and TV themes that echoed from the theaters and living rooms of my youth… When my generation ushered in the Rock era, a counter-punch to Big Band jazz, Neal never felt threatened by it; he kept writing and listening. As his career moved from the 40’s through the 50’s, and on through the 60’s, he never fought the sea of change – he swam it. It didn’t matter where his melodies came from; they just seemed to stick with you… I was never surprised when Rock guitar players mentioned the Batman theme as an inspiration, as I always felt that strong melody transcends genre - the best songs can be interpreted across stylistic boundaries.
Celebrating this belief, my thought was to arrange Neal’s best, or at least my favorites, for a scaled down, electric “Big band”, if you will, consisting of great players, able to lean backward, and look forward, performing the music of Neal Hefti.
To that end, I’ve assembled Hefti Plays Hefti, featuring vocalist Devyn Rush. Our first endeavor was to take the band to the legendary Capitol Records Studio A, and record live, under the direction of Producer Byl Carruthers. Along with myself on guitar and vocals, we put together an incredible band; Mike Rocha on trumpet. Colin Kupka, Ian Roller, and Kyle O’Donnell on saxophones. Dan Lutz on bass, Adam Gust on drums, and Chris Rhyne on piano.
I couldn’t be happier with the results, and look forward to bringing the band to a venue near you.