The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on November 3, 1968 · Page 27
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 27

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 3, 1968
Page 27
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C2 Palm Beach Post-Times, Sunday, Nov. 3, 1968 On The Road Back Cliff Hall's Determined i door, and then all the way out to the gate to his car, chatting casually about the difficult work in the year ahead. "It was a little thing, but I treasure that experience," Hall says simply. Right now, Cliff Hall has a very big goal in mind. With the help of his full-time housekeeper, and his many friends, perhaps he can do it. "I'm going to be back up there In front of that orchestra in another year Christmas 1969," he says with determination. "While I'm waiting for the paralysis on my left side to clear up, I'm going to practice so hard with my right hand that I can play with one hand, if necessary, and let the orchestra pick up the bass beat." And as he sits down at the piano to demonstrate, playing the tunes he's identified with "Down in the Depths on the 90th Floor", "I Wish I Were in Love Again," "Wait Till You See Her," and "Steady, Steady!" it seems more than likely that by Christmas, 1969, Cliff Hall will have made that perilous journey back through pain, fear, and frustration to the front of his orchestra. OPENING FOR THE SEASON MONDAY NOV. 4 h CLIFF HALL The popular Palm Beach County orchestra leader is fighting his way back from the effects of a crippling stroke. "I'm going to be back up there in front of that orchestra in another year Christmas 1969," he promises. By SHEILA TRYK Staff Writer It's a long difficult road back to the piano from the edge of the grave, but Cliff Hall Is determined to make it. Struck down on Sept. 14, 1966, by "a stroke, which was followed 6 hours later by a cerebral hemorrhage," as he describes it, the well known society musician and conductor was not given much hope for survival. And his popular orchestras weren't given much hope, either. It's a tribute to Cliff Hall that both are surviving. "I was very lucky," Hall remarks. "It turned out that my speech and memory centers were not affected. The paralysis is all on my left side, and at times, the facial paralysis makes me feel and sound as if I were talking with a mouthful of novacaine after a trip to the dentist! " The first seven months after his attack, Hall's recovery was remarkably rapid, but then things slowed down, and he became very frustrated. A little Christmas tree helped boost Hall's recovery last year. Several of his patrons people his orchestra had played for over the years presented him with the tree, which was covered with cards and checks. With that gift, Hall was able to spend 6 weeks at the Rusk Institute in New York. "It was a lovely, thoughtful gesture," he says feelingly. Cliff Hall's orchestras have remained healthy through the ordeal, continuing intact under the care of the musicians who formed them. Neal Smith, Hall's clarinetist and right hand man, has had the often hectic job of managing the office, taking calls, and arranging the bookings for the musicians, In addition to his usual playing and conducting. "It's wonderful, the way people have stood by," says Hall. Cliff Hail never started out to be an orchestra leader, though as a boy he studied piano in Riverside, New Jersey, under "a wonderful teacher who had played for the silent movies."-His teacher informed young Cliff that he'd never make a piano player, because he went in too much for improvising. "But you may become a fine composer," he suggested. Cliff Hall laughs now. "I have absolutely no talent for composing I'm perfectly happy with the works of other composers, especially Cole Porter." And he's earned his living with the piano! After high school graduation, Cliff and some friends had a 16 man orchestra, "The Del Regis", patterned after the famed Casa Loma Orchestra. The boys enjoyed a measure of success in fraternity circles at the University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore, and Temple. Later, Hall struck out alone, playing the piano and singing at clubs. One day he was asked by orchestra leader Meyer Davis to play an engagement in Newport. Davis had some misgivings, as Hall recalls, "because I played a lot more jazz than he usually did." But Davis needed someone, and Hall played the engagement. That first party "it was August, 1939, at the George Henry Warren home" led to 8 other engagements on successive nights, and Hall was on his way. When Newporters suggested he go to Palm Beach for the season, Hall agreed, and eventually he became a Florida resident, though he still maintains a home In Newport. In West Palm Beach, Hall encountered an excellent trio made up of Neal Smith, Bill Urian and Ralph Skinner. As parties got larger and engagements more frequent, Hall would hire the trio to go along with him and alternate in the playing. "Then we began playing numbers together, i added a drummer. Then Archie Diamond on the accordion, and Tony Melis on the guitar he's probably the best in the whole country and trumpeter George Schmidt. More recently, I added 6 violinists. By 1961 1 found myself in the orchestra business, without quite knowing how it had come about!" Hall also found that his Latin flavored jazz beat, the excellent musicianship, and Skinner's arrangements were combining to take business away from the king of society music, Meyer Davis! He also found that he was trying to do too much work himself, and getting frequent headaches perhaps a warning of danger ahead. That his original musicians have stuck by through the years says even more for Hall than that his audiences have increased in numbers and size. "Our main forte is the private home party," Hall explains, "with a 5 or 6 man orchestra." During the height of the "season" he may have several units playing at different locations on a given night. Currently, he has units playing at La Coquille Club and the Colony Hotel. "I sent Gene Murray over to the Colony with a little band, to play a temporary assignment one month. They're outstanding, and they've been there 5 years!" he laughs. He has also contracted to have his orchestra play at all the Palm Beach Country Club dances this season, and will provide music every Sunday at the Palm Beach Bath and Tennis Club. Calls for individual engagements come from distant points, tod. Besides the Newport-New York-Palm Beach circuit, the orchestras often play Nassau, and Hall himself has been called to England more than once. His fondest memory, however, is of a peaceful Christmas afternoon, in 1959 one which now seems so very far away and long ago. Hall was playing for a press party in Palm Beach, given by the then president-elect, John F. Kennedy. According to protocol, everyone was leaving at the designated hour, when Hall was asked to stay and play for the family until dinner. Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Kennedy, Jacqueline, and Caroline sat relaxed around the tree, while Hall played. When it was time to go, the new president, instead of saying goodbye, walked with Hall to the CASUAL CLOTHES 105 LAKEVIEW AVE. WEST PALM BEACH Oppeiite Chriitian Science Church Is Work Therapy? Fabrics jj Think MlM I emationak Pink! Uk$M NOW OPEN 10:30-4:00 J 1x1 Sound lid orith-nwlk le you? It'i Cloud Saturday EXCLUSIVE DRESSMAKING FABRICS 833-5171 At one time it was common for married women to work because they needed the money. Now It's becoming increasingly common for them to work for personal satisfaction, according to Frances L. Feldman, associate professor of social work at the University of Southern California. 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"FACES, FIGURES, & FORTUN ES" a program that will interest today's forward-thinking woman presented by rtm const siomiK ruu TO BELIEVE A SALESMAN UNQUALIFIED IN PIANO TECHNOLOGY. IF YOU DON'T KNOW, RELY ON SOMEONE WHO DOES KNOW . . . IT IS CRAZY SALES SERVICE TUNING i : l ' iV II I 1J ELIZABETH ARDEN Merrill Lynch, Pierce, and Fenner & Smith Inc. QUALIFIED FRANCHISED DEALER Lovable at a little French pooch, the tet ttayt in! "Poochy" Col, Permanent & Set complete, 10.50 Clean Best PARIS (WNS) Genevieve Lecoeuche of Armentleres, Mlchele Accary of Chartres and Marlette Polrler of Tours placed one-two-three as the best French housewives of 1968. Genevieve's recipe-"Love your work, and improve It every week." Mlchele's: "Pretend that company Is coming, and you must show off your best." Marlette's: "Get everybody out of the house, turn off the TV set and do the job right. 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