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Air Mail Special

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Album Review

Vibraphonist Lionel Hampton was well into his golden years, but still was swinging very hard, when this live concert date was documented in 1983. Air Mail Special features many fan favorites by Hamp and his big band, including the trombone section feature "Valve Job." The most interesting aspects of this release are the individual bandmembers themselves, including then up-and-coming trumpeter Byron Stripling, killer trombonists Charles Stephens and Robert Trowers, tenor saxophonist Jerry Weldon, tenor and baritone saxophonist Paul Jeffreys, pianist John Colianni, and the veteran drummer known for his work with Thelonious Monk, Frankie Dunlop. Also included is alto saxophonist and flutist Thomas Chapin, who would leave Hampton to become a premier creative improvising artist for the next decade prior to his untimely passing at a still young age. Whether you are a devotee or just discovering Lionel Hampton, this energetic and well-recorded project is surely worth finding. [The ITM label released a two-CD expanded edition of Air Mail Special in 2006, including such additional tracks as the blues swinger "Advent" and the hard bopping "Minor Thesis."] ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Air Mail Special, Lionel Hampton Big Band
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