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Lionel Hampton and His French New Sound Vol. 1

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Album Review

Lionel Hampton joins forces with a number of top French musicians for this 1955 studio session, reissued in Verve's Jazz in Paris series. Three of the four compositions are Hampton's, swinging tunes arranged by Christian Chevalier. The first, "Voice of the North," is primarily for the leader's matchless vibes with the rhythm section, though individual soloists are featured, including fellow Americans Nat Adderley and Benny Bailey on trumpets and David Amram on French horn, as well as clarinetist Maurice Meunier and baritone saxophonist William Boucaya. It's just Hampton and the rhythm section (pianist René Urtreger, bassist Guy Pedersen, and drummer Jean-Baptiste Reilles) for the long workout of "À la French." The one standard of the date, "Crazy Rhythm," suffers from somewhat muddy sound, particularly the overly distant brass. Guitarist Sacha Distel, though admittedly intimidated by Hampton, rises to the leader's level of playing with a fine solo. Overall, this is an enjoyable if not quite essential CD by Lionel Hampton.


Born: 20 April 1909 in Louisville, KY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Lionel Hampton was the first jazz vibraphonist and was one of the jazz giants beginning in the mid-'30s. He has achieved the difficult feat of being musically open-minded (even recording "Giant Steps") without changing his basic swing style. Hamp started out as a drummer, playing with the Chicago Defender Newsboys' Band as a youth. His original idol was Jimmy Bertrand, a '20s drummer who occasionally played xylophone. Hampton played on the West Coast with such groups as Curtis Mosby's Blue Blowers,...
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