Hal Crook began studying music in 1955 at the age of 5, inspired by his father's Dixieland jazz band playing jam sessions in the living room. He took piano lessons for 7 years, during which time he also received training in music theory and harmony.
Hal began composing songs at the age of 8 and wrote his first big band arrangement at the age of 12. Some say it isn't his best writing, some say it isn't his worst either. At 12 years old he took up the trombone and played his first professional gig one year later. Some say it wasn't his best gig, some say it wasn't his worst either.
Since 1963 Hal has pursued an active performing career, playing in major jazz clubs, festivals and concert halls throughout the United States, Europe and Japan with a "who's who" of jazz, including:
Phil Woods (the Phil Woods Quintet), Zoot Sims, Nick Brignola, Lew Tabackin, Joe Farrell, Sal Nistico, Charlie Mariano, Dick Johnson, John LaPorta, Charles McPherson, Joe Temperly, Jimmy Mosher, Frank Wess, George Garzone, Jerry Bergonzi, Pete Christlieb, Ernie Watts, Don Menza, Ray Pizzi, Ronnie Cuber, Lou Marini, Bill Pierce, Bob Mover, Richie Cole, Jim Odgren, Ed Tomassi, Dino Govoni, Antonio Hart, Mark Turner, Seamus Blake, Chris Cheek, Eric Alexander, Tim Price, Greg Tardy, Igor Butman, Dan Blake, Tucker Antell, Jon Bean.
Clark Terry, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Doc Severinsen, Snooky Young, Thad Jones, Roy Eldridge, Herb Pomeroy, Wild Bill Davison, Lennie Johnson, Chuck Findley, Claudio Roditi, Paul Fontaine, Greg Hopkins, Roy Hargrove, Jack Walrath, Bill Chase, Ira Sullivan, Marv Stamm, Tiger Okoshi, Tom Harrell, John Faddis, Brian Lynch, Ingrid Jensen, Lin Biviano, Marvin "Hannibal" Peterson, Ken Cervenka, John Allmark, John McNeil, Dave Ballou, Andy Gravish, Joe Giorgianni, Gary Grant.
Bob Brookmeyer, Phil Wilson, Carl Fontana, Garnet Brown, Slide Hampton, Bobby Burgess, Benny Powell, Bill Watrous, Buster Cooper, Chuck Connors, George Masso, Porky Cohen, Bruce Fowler, Sam Burtis, Tom Malone, Bruce Paulson, Alan Kaplan, Bill Reichenbach, Curt Berg, Kevin Quail, Rock Ciccerone, Keith O'Quin, Hart Smith, Jaxon Stock, Tony Lada, Bertil Strandberg, Art Baron, Jeff Galindo.
Dave McKenna, Don Freedman, Ray Santisi, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Alan Broadbent, Roger Kellaway, George Cables, Hal Galper, James Williams, Jim McNeely, Mike Renzi, John Hicks, Bill Dobbins, Danilo Perez, Bill Charlap, Geoff Keezer, John Medeski, Christian Jacob, Renato Chicco, Cyrus Chesnut, Aaron Goldberg, Alan Zavod, Jason Moran, John Ferrara, Mark Levine, Art Resnick, Mark Soskin, Mike Wofford, Tim Ray, Alain Mallet, Frank Carlberg, Bert Seager, Aydin Essen, Salvatore Bonafede, Danny Grissett, Leo Genovese, Bevan Manson, Antonio Farao, Chris Neville, Liberache.
Mick Goodrick, Joe Diorio, John Abercrombie, John Collins, Frank Mobus, John Chiodini, Peter Sprague, Rick Peckham, Bruce Bartlett, John Shannon, Matt Stevens, Lionel Loueke.
Milt Hinton, Chuck Israels, Monk Montgomery, George Mraz, Abe Laboriel, Steve Gilmore, Harvie S, John Neves, Steve LaSpina, John Lockwood, Ed Schuller, Jeff Berlin, Mark Dresser, Dave Santoro, Putter Smith, Keter Betts, Charlie LaChapelle, Thomson Kneeland, Ben Street, Dave Zinno, Marty Ballou, Hans Glawischnig, Paul Del Nero, Peter Herbert, Bruce Gertz, Walter Schmocker, Oscar Stagnaro, George Donchev, Massimo Biolcati, Janek Gwizdala, Esperanza Spalding.
Kenny Clark, Mel Lewis, Louis Bellson, Ben Riley, Paul Motian, Daniel Humair, Alan Dawson, Adam Nussbaum, Joey Baron, Bill Goodwin, Chester Thomson, Harvey Mason, Peter Donnell, Ed Shaughnessy, Steve Bagby, Terri Lyne Carrington, Joe Hunt, John Hollenbeck, Jim Black, Take Toriyama, Billy Mintz, Ed Soph, Bob Gullotti, George Schuller, Bob Kaufman, Marcello Pellitteri, John Ramsay, Mark Miralta, Charles Haynes, Dave Weigert, Artie Cabral, Ian Froman, Rob Perkins, Jose "Pepe" Taveira, Frank Nemeth, Ziv Ravitz, Mimmo Cafiero, Antonio Sanchez.
The NBC "Tonight Show" Band, Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman, Louis Bellson, Clark Terry, WDR Big Band (Cologne), Herb Pomeroy, Bob Florence, Duke Belaire, Doc Severinsen's Now Generation Brass, MGM Studios Orchestra.
Tony Bennet, Johnny Hartman, James Brown, Diana Ross, Esperanza Spalding, Jeannie Cheatham.
As a recording artist (leader and sideman) Hal has performed on over 40 jazz CDs, one of which was nominated for a Grammy in 1998 ("Celebration", Concord Jazz, Phil Woods). Various artists also feature Hal's musical compositions and arrangements on numerous recordings.
COMPOSING and ARRANGING
Hal's composing and arranging credits include music for the NBC "Tonight Show" Band, WDR Radio Band (Cologne), Phil Woods, Clark Terry, Herb Pomeroy, Louis Bellson, Artie Shaw, Duke Belaire, Dick Johnson, Nick Brignola, the New England Emmy Awards, and the San Diego Pops.
Hal has also written complete music libraries for 5-piece, 6-piece, 9-piece, 13-piece, and 16-piece jazz
ensembles, totaling hundreds of musical compositions and arrangements.
BOOKS and PLAY-ALONGS (See PUBLICATIONS page.)
Hal has authored four acclaimed music textbooks on jazz improvisation:
HOW TO IMPROVISE: An Approach To Practicing Improvisation
HOW TO COMP: A Study In Jazz Accompaniment
READY, AIM, IMPROVISE! Exploring The Basics Of Jazz Improvisation
BEYOND TIME AND CHANGES: A Musician's Guide To Free Jazz Improvisation
Hal has also performed (solo piano) a three-volume jazz play-along series called CREATIVE COMPING FOR IMPROVISATION, Volume 1, 2, 3; and written a jazz songbook called THE MUSIC OF HAL CROOK: 35 Original Jazz Compositions.
All materials published by Schott Music (Advance Music), Germany.
The Hal Crook Play-Alongs: 46 standard chord progressions with original melodies, performed by Take Toriyama (drums), John Lockwood (bass), and Hal Crook (piano); with 4 instrumentation settings for each track. Used as accompaniment in jazz improvisation classes taught at Berklee College of Music.
TEACHING and CLINICS
Hal designed the music curriculum and taught all facets of contemporary music at the Rhode Island School of Music (1973-75). He taught at Berklee College of Music (1975-76), and was co-founder of the Rhode Island School of Performing Music with drummer Artie Cabral (1976-79). He also taught courses in jazz arranging and performance at the University of Rhode Island (1979-80).
Hal taught at the University of California in Los Angeles (1981) and in San Diego (1984). He founded the San Diego School of Performing Music, later re-named JazzSchool, for which he designed the music curriculum and taught all facets of contemporary music (1982-1986).
Hal was a Professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston for 30 years (1986-2016), where he designed and taught courses in jazz arranging, composition, harmony, counterpoint, improvisation, repertoire and ensemble performance.
He has also been a Visiting Artist in Residence at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz (1998-present) and at the Dave Brubeck Institute (2005).
Over the course of his career, Hal has taught at jazz seminars and music clinics throughout the United States, Europe and Japan.
AWARDS and ACHIEVEMENTS
Hal received the Benny Goodman Award at the National Stan Kenton Stage Band Camp (1965); the Creative Art Award from the Kiwanis Club (1966); a scholarship to Berklee College of Music from Downbeat magazine (1968-69); and was Composer In Residence for the State of Rhode Island (1979-80).
He received the Jeannie Award (blues singer/pianist Jeannie Cheatham) from the Jazz Society of Southern California (1986); the Most Valuable Contribution to the College Curriculum award from Berklee College of Music (1988); two Outstanding Service to Jazz Education awards from the International Association of Jazz Educators (1988-89); a National Endowment for the Arts grant (1995); and was inducted into the Cranston Hall of Fame, Cranston, RI (1997).
Hal graduated summa cum laude from Berklee College of Music in Boston with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Arranging and Composition in 1971.