Writing

In 1976, Hal graduated from California State University in Long Beach with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism.  Though he opted for a career in music rather than writing professionally, he has put the degree to good use almost from the start.  During the 1970s Hal wrote reviews and articles for the Jazzologist, (Kerrville, Texas) and wrote his first liner notes for George Buck’s Jazzology and GHB record labels.  Next, he became a regular contributor to the Mississippi Rag (Minneapolis) and began to write liner notes for Bob Erdos’ Stomp Off label.  Below is a sample of Hal’s liner note-writing, from the CD “Ragtime – New Orleans Style, vol. 2” on the Big Al label:

Ragtime New Orleans Style vol. 2 liner notes

In the 1990s, Hal was a contributing writer for the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation’s Frisco Cricket, and he became a staff writer for the Jazz Rambler, published by America’s Finest City Dixieland Jazz Society in San Diego, CA.  Besides writing articles concerning AFCDJS activities, Hal has written numerous biographies of famous (and not-so-famous) jazz and swing musicians.  Here is an excerpt from the Feb. 2020 Rambler:

W. Braud article

Below is a link to the AFCDJS website, which includes issues of the Rambler dating back to 2010.

http://www.sdjazzfest.org/index.php?id=rambler

Hal’s articles have also appeared in overseas publications.  Below are two excerpts from articles published in the Bulletin of the Hot Club of France, and an excerpt from an article which appeared recently in the British publication Just Jazz:

halsmith1

halsmith2

 

Bob Mielke's Music July 2020 JUST JAZZ p. 1

In 2019, Hal began writing for the Syncopated Times https://syncopatedtimes.com/.  In one of the first articles, Hal focused on the French pianist Henri Chaix.  Here is an excerpt:

Henri Chaix article excerpt

In addition to the articles, Hal has also participated in written discussions with other musicians regarding historic jazzmen and their recordings.  He has also conducted several interviews with musicians who are active in the current-day traditional jazz and swing scene, such as this one with Chris Tyle:

Tyle excerpt

Recently, Hal wrote biographies of jazz musicians who were active in the Bay Area during the Great Traditional Jazz Revival, plus articles concerning the Revival itself, By Area nightclubs and other subjects for the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation Collection, as part of the Charles N. Huggins Project — hosted by the Stanford Libraries.  Here is an excerpt from his article on drummer Bill Dart:

Dart SFTJF excerpt

This is a link to the website which contains all of Hal’s articles for the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation:

https://exhibits.stanford.edu/sftjf/feature/first-generation-jazzmen