During one of his many tours of Europe, Lionel Hampton assembled a group of all-stars for this 1956 studio session, adding a number of top European players to his regular group. The vibraphonist has the lion's share of solos, dominating the 11-plus-minute interpretation of "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing" and showing off a bit with his unique style of playing piano on several selections, including a romp through "Regina's Drag" (which is the same as "12th Street Rag"). "New Saint-Louis Blues" is just an updated version of W.C. Handy's signature tune, with a vocal by Hampton and sassy muted trumpet by Ed Mullens. This date might have been a bit more memorable with more solo features for the vibraphonist's sidemen, but it is hard to overpower one of the greatest jazz showmen of all time.
Lionel Hampton's two-day session for Blue Star in 1976 was a very productive date; he only brought along two regulars, guitarist Billy Mackel and pianist/organist Reynold Mullins, but was joined by an assortment of outstanding European players, including pianist Raymond Fol, alto saxophonist Michel Attenoux (who had worked with Hampton before), trombonist Claude Gousset, tenor saxophonist Gerard Badini, bassist Michel Gaudry, and former Ellington drummer Sam Woodyard, who was living and working in Paris. Hampton was only 68 years old at the time of the recording and still had the reputation for wearing out men a third of his age on the bandstand; his enthusiasm is infectious from the opening number, "Ring Dem Bells," as he introduces each soloist in turn in a lively jam…
Trombonist Slide Hampton, just 30 years old at the time of this octet session in Paris, had already developed into a forward-thinking arranger. Scoring a mix of standards and well-known jazz compositions for a group that included two trombones, two trumpets, tenor sax, baritone sax, bass, and drums, Hampton's stunning interpretation of "Exodus" (from the film of the same name) still sounds very fresh decades later. The brisk "Star Eyes" might suggest the so-called "cool" players of the 1950s, featuring excellent solos by trumpeter Richard Williams and bassist Butch Warren. Baritone saxophonist Jay Cameron shines in "Confirmation," while the leader explodes in a powerful rendition of "Moment's Notice." Finally reissued as a part of Verve International's wide-ranging Jazz in Paris series, fans of the trombone will definitely want to acquire this very reasonably priced CD.
Lionel Hampton's series of record dates leading all-star swing bands produced some of the more exciting music of the late '30s. Just on this CD alone, Hampton led groups with musicians drawn from the Duke Ellington, Earl Hines, Cab Calloway, and Benny Goodman big bands, among others. Among the more notable performances are Benny Carter's "I'm in the Mood for Swing," a swing version of Jelly Roll Morton's "Shoe Shiner's Drag," tenor saxophonist Chu Berry having one of his best showcases on "Sweethearts on Parade," and a romp on "Twelfth Street Rag." Through it all, Hampton (whether on vibes, two-fingered piano, drums, or singing) often steals the show.
In 1937, vibraphonist Lionel Hampton began leading a series of all-star swing recording dates. Although he would still be a member of Benny Goodman's organization for another three years, Hampton was a natural-born leader and his record dates featured top sidemen from a variety of major jazz bands. This CD begins the chronological reissue of all of this music (except alternate takes). Hampton is teamed with players from the Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington orchestras plus a large assortment of guests. Among the many highlights are "Hampton Stomp" (featuring Hampton playing rapid lines on the piano with two fingers), "Stompology," Johnny Hodges on "On the Sunny Side of the Street," and some good spots for Jonah Jones' trumpet.