It didn’t take very long for Bobby Hackett to achieve the kind of acclaim he so richly deserved. His identifiable, mellow cornet was heard in local groups around Providence, R.I., Boston, Cape Cod until eventually hitting New York in 1937and playing in some of the best society bands available.
As his reputation spread quickly around 52nd Street, he was snatched up by clarinetist Joe Marsala who brought him to the Hickory House for a brief engagement before he led his own small group at Nick's. His records for Commodore, mostly under the aegis of Eddie Condon, were gathering high praise from musicians and fans alike and soon would become classics in the genre of Chicago-style jazz.
In 1939, swing was the thing and big bands continued to bring a steady paycheck for jazz musicians, Hackett decided to form a big band of his own which played at the Famous Door and toured briefly. This venture was short-lived but led to work in sweet bands like Horace Heidt's and the swing outfits of Glen Gray and most notably Glenn Miller. Radio, film and recording work still poured in throughout the 1940s for the Hackett horn.
Comedian Jackie Gleason picked up a baton and led a full string orchestra in a series of wildly successful “mood music” albums for Capitol in 1951. A jazz fan with a keen sense of popular taste, “The Great One” hired Hackett to provide melodic obbligatos for his lush orchestrations, disseminating the Hackett name and his unique sound to a mass audience that was flocking to the new LP format. That exposure also landed Hackett a recording contract with Capitol.