Home » Jazz Musicians » Neal Hefti

Neal Hefti

Neal Hefti was an American jazz trumpeter, composer, tune writer, and arranger. He was perhaps best known for composing the theme music for the Batman television series of the 1960s, and for scoring the 1968 film The Odd Couple and the subsequent TV series of the same name.

He began arranging professionally in his teens, when he wrote charts for Nat Towles. He became a prominent composer and arranger while playing trumpet for Woody Herman; while working for Herman he provided new arrangements for "Woodchopper's Ball" and "Blowin' Up a Storm," and composed "The Good Earth" and "Wild Root." After leaving Herman's band in 1946, Hefti concentrated on arranging and composing, although he occasionally led his own bands. He is especially known for his charts for Count Basie such as "Li'l Darlin'" and "Cute".


Obituary

As the actors Adam West and Burt Ward slid down to the Batcave during the title sequence of the twice-weekly 1960s series Batman, they emerged as Batman and Robin to the accompaniment of one of the best-known television themes of all. Built around a simple 12-bar blues, Neal Hefti’s “Na-na-na-na Na-na-na-na Batman!” theme was sung in school playgrounds across the world, and became the most-recorded song of 1966.

Hefti was a brilliant composer and arranger who created the scores for many other television shows and films, notably the two Neil Simon movies The Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park. His score for Harlow included the song Girl Talk which has become a jazz standard.

Away from the world of Hollywood Hefti will be remembered as the man who shaped the sound of the postwar Count Basie Orchestra, and who also produced dozens of skilful, well-crafted arrangements for Woody Herman and Harry James.

Born in Hastings, Nebraska, Hefti was a child of the jazz age, and because his mother was a music teacher, he started piano lessons at the age of 3, becoming well-versed in theory and harmony by the time he took up the trumpet at 11. After winning several school prizes, he was to start making his living as a jazz trumpeter in the big bands of Charlie Barnet and Charlie Spivak.

He was already writing arrangements, having taught himself by trial and error in high school. He was supplying local dance bands with music well before he graduated.

After travelling to California with Spivak to make a film, Hefti stayed on the West Coast, joining Woody Herman’s band in 1944. Although he played in the trumpet section, this was when his arranging began to take precedence over his playing.

Read more

Tags

Photos

Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Neal Hefti Jazz Pops

Collector's Choice Music
2007

buy

Batman Theme / The...

Present Eye Music
1989

buy

Barefoot In The Park

Higher Octave Music
1967

buy

Definitely Hefti!

Higher Octave Music
1967

buy

Lord Love A Duck...

Present Eye Music
1966

buy

Lord Love A Duck

Higher Octave Music
1966

buy

Videos

Similar

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.