Just His Own Sweet Self
Invite Hal Schaefer for dinner and the first thing he'll say is, 'What shall I bring?' Over the years as our friendship has deepened, my standard reply to that statement has become, 'Just your own sweet self.' It was Hal Schaefer, 'just his own sweet self,' who took the stage at the Steinway Gallery in Boca Raton, Florida on Sunday, March 19, 2006, for an incredible afternoon of music and memories. Or was it? After two years of performing benefit concerts for Insight for the Blind with a trio and, last year, with the addition of a wonderful singer Marion Cowings, Hal decided this year to do a solo performance. Reaching back into his 65 years as a cutting-edge jazz performer, composer, conductor and teacher Hal was not alone at the piano. He had memories, lots of them, to share with all of us. It was like a trip back in time. The young 'whiz kid' just out of high school working with jazz legend Benny Carter (Benny called him 'Buck Rogers' because he was 'far out'); the twenty-one-year-old, mentored by and appearing with Duke Ellington (Duke would say, 'and now here's a REAL piano player, Hal Schaefer'); the wunkerkind of 20th Century Fox Studios, doing arrangements for films such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, A Star is Born and There's No Business Like Show Business; back to New York and Broadway writing the dance music for Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; accepting a teaching position at NYU and continuing to coach and develop such young singers as Barbra Streisand. What memories! What music! Hal has included many of his favorites on this recording, each representing important events or periods in his life. From the haunting Solitude to his absolutely stunning version of I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face, we're sure that Hal's memories will become a part of your musical memories as well. Enjoy it! Harry C. Sharp Jazz Host, WLRN FM, Miami.