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Jazz Archives, No. 20: Classics 1937/1939

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Album Review

Hampton's RCA Victor dates are a varied lot with the majority of them boasting the best players of whatever big band was blowing through town when he was organizing a date. This disc, with dates from 1937 and 1939, is no exception with stars like Cootie Williams, Rex Stewart, Dizzy Gillespie, Gene Krupa, Cozy Cole, Jess Stacy, Milt Hinton, John Kirby, Coleman Hawkins, Chu Berry, Benny Carter, Johnny Hodges, and Lawrence Brown dotting the various lineups. Ultimately, though, it's Hampton's swinging inventions and drive that fuel these tracks with stellar versions of "Don't Be That Way," "Dinah," and "Twelfth Street Rag," among the highlights. Transfers are clean; as part of Hampton's discography, file this one under indispensable.


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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