Seen up close, Bobby Hackett appeared to be one of us.  A diminutive man, neatly dressed, he spoke quietly, in a deep voice.  With Whitney Balliett, he chain-smoked, drank black coffee, and ate peanut-butter-and-bacon sandwiches.  Many other people we know have performed all or some combination of those acts.  I was close enough to him to exchange a few sentences; to have him borrow my Flair pen (this was 1972) to autograph my copy of COAST CONCERT. I wasn’t blinded by radiance; I sensed no otherworldly aura in the man.

But when Hackett began to play, it was clear that he existed on another realm, far beyond the ordinary.  And this lovely impression remains.  Consider his ethereal playing on this 1950 or 1951 recording — billed as the Ink Spots, it’s a feature for singer Bill Kenny:

I know that “immortal” is a cliche of advertising.  But it seems to me that someone who played — no, plays music as delicate and resonant as that, so precise yet so deep in feeling, has never died and will never leave us.  How could we thank Bobby Hackett sufficiently?

And thank you, Austin Casey, for inviting me into Hackett’s world once again by pointing me to a recording I had not heard.  Music of the spheres.


  1. Nice research on that recording Austin…Words by Ned Washington & Bing Crosby and Music by Victor Young from 1932…Also in that Ink Spots group were Orville “Hoppy” Jones, Charlie Fuqua and Ivory “Deek” Watson

  2. Bobby was a ‘class act’ …….strange that I should receive this email today; having just returned from a contract I went to my local second hand record/CD store and found “Soft Lights” and “In a Mellow Mood” packaged on one CD… the best $8.00 I’ve spent today!

  3. Beautiful. BTW, Bill Kenny was the lead singer of the Ink Spots thus this is a normal sound for the group.

  4. Actually this is just Bill Kenny solo. The other Ink Spots are not heard on this track or the flip side (I’m Lucky I Have You) even though Decca labeled it as The Ink Spots. The Ink Spots from this 51 date on, would not record in the studio with Bill Kenny but would appear live with Kenny onstage and on Television.

  5. The link above no longer works, but this one does:

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