THE ICON: Al Hirt
THE LEGACY: From the mid-1960s to the late 1980s, no New Orleans musician was bigger than the 6-foot, 2-inch, 300-pound trumpeter Al Hirt. He operated the Al Hirt Club on Bourbon Street, recorded more than 50 albums, won a Grammy Award in 1964 for his recording of the Allen Toussaint-penned instrumental “Java,” and briefly hosted his own TV show on CBS. He performed for six presidents, for Princess Grace of Monaco, and performed Handel’s ”Ave Maria” for Pope John Paul II at the University of New Orleans in 1987. He was also the halftime entertainment for the first Super Bowl in 1967.
THE ARTIST: Connie Kittok, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “I tried to improvise for a while, but I’m no trailblazer. I look upon myself as a crowd pleaser. I play what the people want to hear. I love ballads. I love pretty melodies. … I just want to be remembered as a decent person and a good trumpet player. That would be a good epitaph for me.” — Al Hirt