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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Jack Ashby





Lionel Hampton : vibraphone & piano with various small groups. Collective personnel : Ziggy Elman, Jonah Jones, Cootie Williams, Harry James, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Carter - trumpet; Rex Stewart - cornet; Hymie Schertzer, George Koenig, Johnny Hodges, Benny Carter, Russell Procope, Vido Musso, Arthur Rollini, Buster Bailey, Eddie Barefield, Edgar Sampson, Dave Matthews, Babe Russin, Jerry Jerome, Chu Berry, Harry Carney, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Toots Mondello, Edmond Hall, Buff Estes, Budd Johnson, Herschel Evans - reeds; Lawrence Brown - trombone; Jess Stacy, Clyde Hart, Billy Kyle, Joe Sullivan, Spencer Odun - piano; Allen Reuss, Bobby Bennett, Danny Barker, Charlie Christian, Al Casey, Freddy Greene, Ernest Ashley - guitar; Harry Goodman, John Kirby, Mack Walker, Billy Taylor, Milt Hinton, Art Bernstein - bass; Gene Krupa, Cozy Cole, Sonny Greer, Joe Jones, Slick Jones, Zutty Singleton, Nick Fatool - drums.
Recorded 1937 - 1940.

1. Rhythm, Rhythm, ( I Got Rhythm)
2. Jivin' The Vibes
3. China Stomp
4. On The Sunny Side Of The Street
5. The Mood That I'm In
6. Piano Stomp
7. Ring Dem Bells
8. Ain't Cha Comin' Home?
9. Twelfth Street Rag
10. Memories Of You
11. Early Session Hop
12. One Sweet Letter From You
13. I've Found A New Baby
14. The Munson Street Breakdown
15. I Can't Get Started
16. I'm In The Mood For Swing
17. Dinah
18. Singin' The Blues
19. Save It, Pretty Mama
20. Flying Home

This disc probably represents the tip of the iceberg. With the recent demise of Lionel Hampton there will surely be a deluge of re-issued material. Being in his nineties at the time of his passing, Hamp represented one of the final links to the earlier years of the music. He first performed with Louis Armstrong as a drummer in California in the early 1930's and made his earliest recordings on the Vibraharp in the same band at around this time. Later versions of the instrument became known as the Vibraphone and Hampton was the first significant player on this member of the percussion family. His influence cannot be denied and any subsequent artist associated with this instrument owes and acknowledges an enormous debt to Lionel Hampton.

He became a bandleader of international repute and the list of musicians who established their reputations with his orchestra is virtually endless. Nevertheless, mention must be made of such later talent as Dexter Gordon and Johnny Griffin as well as that precursor of the Rock And Roll tenor player, Illinois Jacquet. The most notorious aspect of Hamp's early career is his tenure with the various small groups led by Benny Goodman ( notorious in the sense of its breaking down the racial barriers present in the American entertainment industry at this time ) .

This offering comes from around the time of Hampton's tenure with the Goodman band and features various pick-up groups comprised of players from the foremost current big bands. Hampton plays vibraphone on the vast majority of the tracks with a little piano thrown in for good measure ( his piano style was mainly two-fingered at the top end of the keyboard - an extension of his vibes playing ) . The material is pretty much standard fare for the time, the tempos erring on the brighter side and the emphasis on clean, swinging playing.

The soloists are too numerous to mention, suffice it to say that the standard is top drawer without being in any way challenging on the ear. This is a most pleasant representation of the work of one of the music's pioneer instrumentalists - the price makes it doubly attractive.
Dick Stafford

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