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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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The Complete 1955 Session

Essential Jazz Classics EJC 55469



1. Avalon
2. Just You, Just Me
3. Blues for Benny
4. I Got Rhythm
5. Moonglow
6. Airmail Special
7. The Man I Love
8. Body and Soul

Gene Krupa - Drums
Lionel Hampton - Vibes
Teddy Wilson - Piano
Red Callender - Bass


In 1955, nearly 20 years after they first got together in the Benny Goodman Quartet, Gene Krupa, Lionel Hampton and Teddy Wilson recorded these tracks. The recordings seem to have been made to take advantage of the recent release of the film The Benny Goodman Story. The tracks were originally released on an LP and an EP, and this is apparently the first time that the whole session has been released on CD.

Gene Krupa is listed first on the sleeve but there's no doubt that Hampton is the predominant force on this album. He leads the way on almost every number: seemingly inexhaustible and stretching out each tune, so that no track lasts for less than five minutes. Gene Krupa's presence is certainly felt, as he shared Hamp's enthusiasm simply for playing and you can feel the way that Krupa drives the rhythm along. Teddy Wilson may not take a front seat but his contribution is vital, linking everything that Hamp and Krupa do with apt accompaniment and characteristically tasteful solos. Although he is not listed on the front cover, bassist Red Callender adds to the rhythm and makes the group resemble the Benny Goodman Quartet, without Benny's notorious glare (the "ray") to distract the musicians.

In fact the musicians follow the format of many Goodman Quartet numbers. For example, Avalon employs the familiar riff used by the quartet to introduce and finish the song. I Got Rhythm is a good example of the way that Hampton calls out for more and more choruses, as if he can go on for ever - and also Krupa's ability to raise the temperature with some eager fills.

On the other hand, tunes like Moonglow and The Man I Love demonstrate how Hampton and Wilson could play lyrically - although Hamp still can't resist doubling the tempo several times. If you already know other work by these artists - especially Hampton - there will be nothing much here to surprise you: just swinging jazz played with zeal.

Tony Augarde

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