Barbra Streisand sang that “people who need people” are the luckiest people in the world. To that list should be added big–band enthusiasts in and around Stuttgart, Germany, as the SWR Big Band’s Jazz Matinees there just keep getting better and better. The latest in the ensemble’s series of live recordings, showcasing the prodigious talents of American trombonist / composer / arranger Slide Hampton, is an unalloyed pleasure from end to end with Slide and the SWR in peak form in a concert that canvasses four of his superb compositions, the standards “My Funny Valentine” and “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” (paired with Burt Bacharach’s “A House Is Not a Home”), Duke Ellington’s “Cottontail” and Bobby Lavell’s “Do You Believe” (all arranged by Slide). Hampton, who turns seventy this month, made his mark as a player and writer with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson’s explosive orchestra in the late ’50s, contributing a number of memorable charts including “Frame for the Blues,” wonderfully reprised by the SWR band with fabulous solos by Slide, trombonist George Maus, baritone Reiner Heute and bassist Henning Sieverts. The curtain–raiser is Hampton’s crisply swinging “Peanut Butter and Honey” (a.k.a. “All the Things You Are”) with solos to match by drummer Jörg Gebhardt, tenor saxophonist Peter Weniger, trombonists Hampton and Marc Godfroid, flugel Karl Farrent and pianist Klaus Wagenleiter. “Frame for the Blues” is next, followed by Hampton’s poignant “Lament for Booker” (solos by Slide and Wagenleiter), written for trumpeter Booker Little who was a member of Hampton’s octet until his death in October 1965. Farrent (trumpet) and Weniger (soprano) are the headliners on the gently swaying “Do You Believe,” Hampton, Wagenleiter and Sieverts (arco) on the richly orchestrated “Valentine,” while every member of the trombone section has his moments on Slide’s deeply–grooved “Blues for My Father.” Hampton’s creamy–smooth trombone is chaperoned only by Wagenleiter on “Berkeley Square” with the band re–emerging on “Home” as a prelude to the bouncy finale, “Cottontail,” at whose core is a high–spirited saxophone “chase” featuring altos Bernd Rabe and Klaus Graf, baritone Heute, and tenors Weniger and Andreas Maile. Hampton is emphatically brilliant, the SWR Big Band typically outstanding, and the fruit of their collaboration a solid front–runner for inclusion on anyone’s list of the most impressive big–band recordings of 2001.
Track Listing: Peanut Butter and Honey; A Frame for the Blues; Lament for Booker; Do You Believe; My Funny Valentine; Blues for My Father; A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square / A House Is Not a Home; Cottontail (69:50).
Personnel: Slide Hampton, conductor, arranger, trombone; Thomas Vogel, Felice Civitareale, Lubomir Rezanina, Karl Farrent, Rufolf Reindl, trumpet, flugelhorn; Ernst Hutter, Marc Godfroid, Ian Cumming, Georg Maus, trombone; Bernd Rabe, Klaus Graf, alto sax; Peter Weniger, Andreas Maile, tenor sax; Rainer Heute, baritone sax; Klaus Wagenleiter, piano; Henning Sieverts, bass; J
The first jazz record I bought was a Verve compilation of 10 LPs! I saved for more than six months and gave it to myself as a
Christmas present. I was about 18 years old. Since then, my love for jazz has taken me to program the only jazz radio station in
Mexico City, Horizonte 107.9 FM.