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. 

In the 1990s, Hal was a contributing writer for the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation’s Frisco Cricket and contributed liner notes for several CDs produced by SFTJF, including “Turk Murphy’s Jazz Band at the Cinegrill, 1950.”

Since 1997, Hal has written numerous biographies of famous (and not-so-famous) jazz and swing musicians for the Jazz Rambler, published by America’s Finest City Dixieland Jazz Society.  Here is an excerpt from the Fall. 2020 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
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Bob Mielke's Music July 2020 JUST JAZZ p. 1

In 2019, Hal began writing for the Syncopated Times https://syncopatedtimes.com/.  Here is an excerpt from Hal’s interview with guitarist-vocalist-bandleader Dave Stuckey:

Hal has also written 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