If everybody likes Hampton Hawes, why is he such a neglected figure today? Maybe it's because he is neither an innovator like Bud Powell nor an expressionist like Bill Evans. Maybe it was because he spent his time on the West Coast instead of the East Coast. Or maybe with covers like these, his albums get put in the children's section by mistake.
Whatever the reason, Hawes was a sturdy accompanist and a pianist who was capable of turning out satisfying yet predictable albums of standards buoyed with a few originals. Everybody Likes Hampton Hawes is no better or worse than any other of Hawes's trio recordings featuring Red Mitchell and Chuck Thompson, which means that those familiar with his work will know exactly what to expect and newcomers might as well start here as anywhere.
Hawes has an elegant style typical of West Coast playing, but infused with bebop flourishes. His powerfully rhythmic left hand anchors the forceful dancing of his right, apparent on tunes like "Somebody Loves Me" and "A Night in Tunisia." But he also can run through a ballad without making it sound overly sentimental and of course throws in a few blues numbers to show he's got the chops for that, too. Mitchell gets in a few enthusiastic bass solos and Thompson keeps a tight rhythmic snap behind.
The selection of tunes on this 1956 date may not be all that adventurous, but it allows Hawes to do what he does best: give a little extra juice to some well-worn standards. No groundbreaking work here, but Hawes and company have, as usual, crafted a worthwhile session of piano jazz.
Personnel: Hampton Hawes - piano; Red Mitchell - bass; Chuck Thompson - drums.