Remembering Neal Hefti

15 Oct
Neal Hefti

Neal Hefti

The jazz world lost one of its most famous composers and arrangers last Saturday, October 11th, as Neal Hefti passed away in his home in Los Angeles at the age of 85.

While Hefti’s biggest “hit” might have been the composition of the theme song for the television show Batman, for which he won a Grammy award in 1966, Hefti built his reputation with wonderful compositions and arrangements for big bands.

In addition to being a fine trumpet player, Hefti built his reputation arranging and composing for Woody Herman. Hefti’s most memorable big band compositions were recorded by Count Basie’s band between 1950 and 1962, and included works like Lil’ Darlin’, Cute, Whirly-Bird, and Little Pony.

Neal Hefti spent a month composing the Batman theme song, which became an overnight success, landing in the Top 40 and winning him a Grammy for Best Instrumental Theme. He also composed music for The Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park, and Harlow.

Click here to hear Count Basie’s band play Neal Hefti’s Whirly-Bird.

Click here to hear Count Basie’s band play Neal Hefti’s Lil’ Darlin’.

Click here to hear the Batman theme song written by Neal Hefti.

4 Responses to “Remembering Neal Hefti”

  1. Chris Fuchs October 16, 2008 at 3:17 pm #

    Thanks for the rememberance. I particularly liked the link to listen to Li’l Darling. Great music.

  2. Kevin Kniestedt October 16, 2008 at 5:53 pm #

    Absolutely. It seems like you could always recognize a Neal Hefti tune when you hear it.

  3. ROBERT GUYTON November 7, 2008 at 8:34 pm #

    I have a Neal Hefti Album – “LIGHT AND RIGHT” It has no info on personnel. They picture a combo is on the back side of the album. Can you tell me who the are? I like the alto sax guy and would like to here more of him. I have most of Hefti/Bsaie “Big Band” crarts and enjoy playing them. We call our group “MONDAY NIGHT JAZZ BAND”, I play BARI SAX. 5/4/4/4.



  4. Kevin Kniestedt November 9, 2008 at 6:57 pm #


    Light and Right remains a historical and musical curiosity. The only information that I, or just about anyone else for that matter can give you on the album is that Neal is the trumpet player. It was really his last demonstration as a trumpet player, but the band, through all the research I’ve done, remains undefined. My apologies.

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