When Lionel Hampton was signed by Victor 1937, he was given something very special by recording director Eli Oberstein; an open invitation to record whenever and with whomever he wanted. And whenever Hampton was in New York he would gather together the best talent in the city and lay down some of the best all-star jams of any time. The results are exceptional performances by the royalty of jazz. This re-issue collection compiles some of the best and star studded tracks for our listening amazement.
The names of the participants of these sessions are a virtual who's who of swing. Just to name a few: Cootie Williams, Benny Carter, Cozy Cole, Coleman Hawkins, Milt Hinton, Chu Berry, Ziggy Elman, Freddie Green, Clyde Hart and Jo Jones. This is a great chance to hear some great playing from these top musicians outside of their normal duties. Some highlights are Gene Krupa's drum solo on "Hampton Stomp", Johnny Hodges beautiful melody on "On The Sonny Side of the Street" and Chu Berry's duet with Hampton on "Sweethearts on Parade." Some of the tunes forgo even a melody statement and fly right into some rip roaring soloing like on "Twelth Street Rag."
However the most dense collection of jazz masters are on one session that includes Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins, Chu Berry, Ben Webster, Clyde Hart, Charlie Christian, Milt Hinton, Cozy Cole and of course Lionel Hampton of which this set includes four tracks. I'm know you want to hear this stuff!!
Of course there is no doubt that Hampton is the main star of the sessions. He plays his vibraphone with excitement and verve as always. However we also have many samples of his quick piano playing which he accomplishes with only two fingers in a mallet fashion as on "Piano Stomp." And though he may not be the best vocalists his singing is always endearing and homey as on "Ring Dem Bells" and "One Sweet Letter from You."
These musicians must have had a blast during these sessions and it shows. Lionel Hampton recorded ninety sides for Victor up until 1941. Here is a sampling of the best stuff. If you can't find this collection keep looking. This material gets reissued from time to time on various labels. It's worth the search.