Germany’s Nagel–Heyer Records, bless their hearts, keep doing their best to help keep memories of the Swing Era alive with splendid albums such as this earnest salute to Lionel Hampton by trumpeter Randy Sandke’s New York All–Stars. Stompin’ at the Savoy!, taped at a concert performance four years ago in Hamburg, is a sequel to Hey Ba–Ba–Re–Bop!, in which the All–Stars also paid tribute to the man whose reign as Jazz’s acknowledged monarch of the vibraphone has endured for more than seven decades. The playlist consists entirely of songs associated with Hampton either as leader or star sideman with clarinetist Benny Goodman’s peerless sextet, and the All–Stars dig into each of them with a full measure of warmth and enthusiasm. Hamp’s customary place behind the vibes is assumed by Swedish master Lars Erstrand who, in 1991, became one of the few vibraphonists to share a studio recording date with Hampton. Goodman, meanwhile, is played to perfection by Finland’s Antti Sarpila who shows his versatility with a crisp Scott Hamilton–style tenor solo on “How High the Moon.” Sandke, as openhanded as he is dependable, gives everyone a chance to shine. Trombonist Roy Williams commands the stage on “Stardust,” pianist Thilo Wagner and guitarist James Chirillo on “Pennies from Heaven.” Wagner, a new name to us, enhances an already impressive rhythm section whose anchors, bassist Dave Green and drummer Ed Metz, are as nimble and responsive a duo as one is likely to encounter. A wonderful near–hour–long concert of Swing Era classics played by musicians whose love for the music is equaled by their remarkable ability to replicate its freshness and charm.
Personnel: Randy Sandke, leader, trumpet; Roy Williams, trombone; Antti Sarpila, clarinet, tenor sax; Lars Erstrand, vibraphone; James Chirillo, guitar; Thilo Wagner, piano; Dave Green, bass; Eddie Metz, drums.