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Lionel Plays Drums, Vibes, Piano

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Album Review

Lionel Hampton leads a sextet on this 1957 studio session made for Audio Fidelity. The vibraphonist is in a low-key mood throughout the first side of the album, with the soft flute of Bobby Plater and a rhythm section that includes his frequent guitarist Billy Mackel, pianist Oscar Dennard, bassist Julian Brown, and drummer G.T. Hogan. "Thoughts of Thelma (Lazy Thoughts)" is a barely disguised reworking of "How High the Moon" and a dreamy take of "Stardust." Hampton literally wails as he takes over for Hogan on the up-tempo original blues "Tracking Problem," with Plater switching to clarinet. Hampton joins Dennard at the keyboard to play his familiar two-finger piano style solo, and Plater switches to tenor sax in "Blues For Stephen." Hampton's vocal to "And the Angels Sing" is a bit lackluster. The finale of "I Know That You Know" finally kindles the energy one expects from a Hampton-led band, with the leader back on drums and Plater on alto sax. While this long unavailable LP is enjoyable, the mediocre balance in the recording (particularly the piano, which is often barely audible) and the presence of several bland arrangements make the release of interest to only serious Hampton fans.


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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Lionel Plays Drums, Vibes, Piano, Lionel Hampton
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