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



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LIONEL HAMPTON

Three Classic Albums Plus

Avid AMSC 1093

 

 


CD1

Hamp's Big Band

1. Flying Home

2. Hey-Ba-Ba-Re-Bop

3. Hampís Boogie Woogie

4. Kidney Stew

5. Hampís Mambo

6. Airmail Special

7. Big Brass

8. Red Top

9. Night Train

10. Elaine And Daffy

11. Cutterís Corner

12. Le Chat Noir

Lionel Hampton - Vibes

Robert Plater, Edward Pazant - Alto saxes

Herman Green, Andrew McGhee - Tenor saxes

Lonnie Shaw - Baritone sax

Wade Marcus, Clarence Watson, Louis Blackburn - Trombones

Eddie Williams, Eddie Mullens, Arthur Hoyle, Dave Gonzalez, Donald Byrd, William Anderson - Trumpets

William Mackel - Guitar

Wade Legge - Piano

Lawrence Burgan - Bass

Wilbur Hogan, Charles Persip - Drums

Lionel Plays Vibes, Drums, Piano

13. Just One Of Those Things

14. Lazy Thoughts

15. The Man I Love

16. One Step From Heaven

17. Darn That Dream

18. Star Dust

19. Tracking Problem

20. Lullaby Of Birdland

21. Blues For Stephen

CD2

Lionel Plays Vibes, Drums, Piano

1. And The Angels Sing

2. Love Is Here To Stay

3. I Know That You Know

Lionel Hampton - Vibes, drums, piano, vocals

Bobby Plater - Flute, alto sax, tenor sax, clarinet

Oscar Dennard - Piano

Billy Mackel - Guitar

Julius Brown - Bass

Wilbert "G.T." Hogan - Drums

Lionel Hampton With The Just Jazz All Stars

4. Central Avenue Breakdown

5. Thatís My Desire

6. Perdido

7. Blues

8. Hampís Boogie Woogie

9. Flying Home

Lionel Hampton - Vibes, piano, drums

Milt Buckner - Piano

Charlie Shavers - Trumpet

Willie Smith - Alto sax

Barney Kessel - Guitar

Slam Stewart - Bass

Jackie Mills, Lee Young - Drums

Just Jazz

10. Star Dust

11. The Man I Love

Lionel Hampton - Vibes (track 10)

Charlie Shavers - Trumpet

Willie Smith - Alto sax

Corky Corcoran - Tenor sax

Tommy Todd - Piano

Barney Kessel - Guitar

Slam Stewart - Bass

Lee Young - Drums (track 10)

Jackie Mills - Drums (track 11)

 

I am a devotee of Lionel Hampton: for his skill as a vibist, his enthusiasm for jazz, and his ability to swing in virtually any situation. This double album of three-and-a-bit LPs provides solid evidence of all these talents.

Hamp's Big Band was recorded in 1959 and is a typical example of Hampton's big band at that time. The music is loud, energetic, and almost crosses the line from jazz into rhythm-and-blues. Big Brass is a good example of the style, with a vigorous drum opening followed by Hamp's vibes cooking up a storm at a fast tempo and a trumpet solo with plenty of power. Such a track may be a crowd-pleaser but the ensembles are tight, the arrangements are clever and make the most of the big band line-up. And the band included some talented soloists, such as trumpeter Donald Byrd and altoist, flautist and arranger Bobby Plater, who was with Hamp from 1946 to 1964 (when he moved to Count Basie's band). The Hampton band was long-lived and nurtured the careers of many famous artists, including Wes Montgomery, Betty Carter, Charles Mingus and Quincy Jones. Now can someone release the Live at the Apollo 1954 album, which I think has never been reissued on CD?

Bobby Plater is also on the next LP, Lionel Plays Drums, Vibes, Piano, as part of a small group which also includes Hamp's long-time guitarist Billy Mackel. This 1957 album was clearly designed to showcase Lionel's versatility on three different instruments, although he plays the vibes on most tracks. But he had started as a drummer and also patented a style of playing the piano with two fingers as if it was a vibraphone, so he was adept on all these instruments. Tracking Problem contains a very impressive drum solo, while Blues For Stephen demonstrates his piano style, with some witty quotations. And The Angels Sing illustrates another of his talents: singing in a relaxed if not exactly precise manner. Bobby Plater's main role here is to fill in gently behind Lionel, but his contributions tend to be distracting, hindering one's ability to concetntrate on Hampton. Yet Plater contributes some excellent solos, especially on flute. The outstanding track here is Star Dust, which became a staple in Hamp's repertoire (there is a longer version on the second CD). Hampton seemed to find the tune's chord sequence ideal for improvisation and for including many intriguing quotes. It illustrates one of Lionel's many strengths: his ability to echo the chords in his solos and keep reminding you of the original tune.

Keeping the best for last, this double CD ends with extracts from two LPs recorded at Gene Norman's "Just Jazz" concert in Pasadena on 4 August 1947. This was one of those magical occasions when an all-star line-up comes together to make unforgettable music. Central Avenue Breakdown has Hamp soloing on piano (duetting with Milt Buckner) and then drums. Charlie Shavers supplies a hot solo. Perdido contains potent solos from Willie Smith, Charlie Shavers and Hampton. Flying Home is Hamp's usual

extended closer, with a bowed-bass solo from Slam Stewart, a fluent solo by Willie Smith, Charlie Shavers reaching for the stratosphere, and Hampton building the climax.

The last two tracks are half of another LP from the same concert. Star Dust lasts for nearly 15 minutes and includes superb solos from Charlie Shavers, Corky Corcoran and Slam Stewart. But the icing on the cake is Hampton's definitive solo, which is endlessly inventive and constantly swinging. The Man I Love is fine but it doesn't include Hampton!

Tony Augarde

www.augardebooks.co.uk



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