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Recorded 1951-61

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Album Review

Although it does not say it anywhere in the reprinted liner notes by the late Dick Wellstood or the outside of the CD, all of the music on Recorded 1959-1961 was previously released by the now-defunct Pumpkin label. The 14 selections from Pumpkin's LP Classics in Stride are here plus ten of the 15 from Harlem Stride Classics. Donald Lambert was one of the all-time great stride pianists, but living in New Jersey and reluctant to visit New York, he only made one record date, just four titles in 1940. Fortunately some of his live performances from the 1959-1961 period were recorded by fans, including the music on the two Pumpkin LPs and a collection put out by IAJRC. The piano may not be flawless and the recording is not of studio quality (though it has been greatly improved in this reissue), but Lambert's musical mastery definitely comes through well. One is grateful for the existence of his fans, who were wise enough to document the pianist. Lambert swings some classical pieces (including "Anitra's Dance" and Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata"), digs into swing standards, and revives numbers by James P. Johnson, Willie "The Lion" Smith, and Fats Waller, stomping away. Waller and to a lesser extent Art Tatum are influences, but Lambert mostly plays in his own dazzling fashion. It seems criminal that he was not extensively recorded, but at least there are these priceless performances and a few others to remind jazz listeners what a great talent there once was in Lambert.


Born: 1904 in Princeton, NJ

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s

Donald Lambert ranks in jazz history as one of the great unknown stride pianists. In the late '20s, he was a top pianist appearing regularly at rent parties and clubs in Harlem. However, by the 1930s he preferred to stay in New Jersey, playing in out-of-the-way clubs. He recorded four brilliant solos for Bluebird in 1941 in which he strided various classical themes. Other than privately recorded sets from 1960-1962 that were released decades later by Solo Art, IAJRC, and two on Pumpkin, that is all...
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Recorded 1951-61, Donald Lambert
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  • 9,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 20 August 2003

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