Drummer Hal Smith reports that he is on the mend following an automobile accident and is looking forward to getting back on the bandstand. He was rear-ended while driving on I-10 near Pascagoula, Mississippi in November. His auto was totaled, he had a shoulder injury and some cuts and bruises, and his bass drum needed repair.
Hal provided an update in mid-January, writing: “The orthopedic surgeon told me that the tear in my left rotator cuff is small—so he was not anxious to perform surgery on it. He recommended ‘keeping it active,’ but being careful not to enlarge the tear. He thinks it may heal by itself, and I would certainly prefer that to having major surgery and a long and painful recovery.”
“I set up a snare drum, hi-hat and cymbal in my home office and have been trying to play a little every day. So far, I have only had minor pains in the shoulder and arm when playing. Otherwise, I have replaced the bass drum pedal that was ruined in the accident and have ordered a replacement for the bass drum hoop that was cracked.”
“At this point, I am planning to return to drumming at the end of January. I have accepted a gig in California and two in Austin, Texas. My only worry is the drive to and from Austin. I will drive defensively, and I hope the other drivers will as well.”
Jazz Lives blogger Michael Steinman has said about Hal, “I don’t know what religion Hal Smith practices, and it would be rude of me to ask, but he works miracles when he plays. His rollicking beat makes any band sit up straight and play a thousand times better. He listens to his colleagues and doesn’t overshadow them. Just hearing Hal play a four-bar hi-hat introduction is a treat. He’s an old-fashioned musical drummer in the best contemporary way: he loves the many sounds he can get from his drum set and he generously shares them with us. I am sure that the ghosts of Dave Tough, George Wettling, Sidney Catlett, Zutty Singleton, and Baby Dodds, wherever they might be, feel cosmic pleasure when Hal Smith swings out. As do we!”