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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



And The Golden Men of Jazz

Live at the Blue Note





  1. Ow!
  2. Hamp’s Note
  3. Moody’s Mood for Love
  4. I Wish I Knew
  5. Lover
  6. Flyin’ Home
  7. Hamp’s Boogie Woogie

Lionel Hampton – Vibes

Clark Terry – Trumpet/Flugelhorn

Harry "Sweets" Edison – Trumpet

James Moody - Tenor Sax

Buddy Tate – Tenor Sax

Al Grey – Trombone

Hank Jones – Piano

Milt Hinton – Bass

Grady Tate – Drums

This recording was made at the Blue Note Club in New York City, in June of 1991, some 14 years ago. Unfortunately many of the famous names that played on these sessions are no longer with us, including the leader. The jazz world is a poorer place without them; these guys knew how to jam and to enjoy one another both musically and personally. There are quite a number of different styles amongst them, but that does not get in the way at all, in fact it enhances the performance. I particularly enjoyed the lack of intrusive electronics; there is no sound as good in a rhythm section, as good as an acoustic piano and a double bass. Of course when they happen to be Milt Hinton and Hank Jones that is even better. Grady Tate provides a solid beat and unlike many that sound to me like noise machines, he varies his support to the soloist in a really sympathetic way.

The average of the band was 72, but several were truly Golden Men including ‘Hamp’ the leader. Immediately on listening you are aware that as well as being great jazzmen, these guys were also great entertainers. In today’s world some purists don’t want their top jazzers to be entertainers, I think however, that often it’s the entertainment that draws people to jazz and that the appreciation of the music is something that’s gradually assimilated later.

All of the front line players perform well, play interesting solos and each has an identifiable style. There is no problem knowing whether it is Buddy Tate or James Moody soloing, their styles are different, but they are both great soloists. Similarly Clark Terry and Sweets Edison, the latter solos beautifully on I Wish I Knew with superb backing from the rhythm section.

Any session that Lionel Hampton was involved in was bound to swing, Hamp was the man who introduced the vibraphone to jazz in 1930 when he played with the Louis Armstrong Band. He was the No1 man on the instrument for the rest of his life. There have been many other fine vibes players since, but I have never heard of one who did not acknowledge a debt of gratitude to Hamp.

The record is a must because it records for posterity just what a wonderful bunch of musicians these guys were; their own enthusiasm for the music is very infectious which adds to the listening pleasure.

Hamp’s own contribution on Lover is another classic performance, the Rogers and Hart standard is taken at a nice easy tempo and he shows the audience that even in his eighties, he is still a force to reckon with. Of course being Hamp, he takes the tempo up for the latter part of the record but you would expect that!

Flyin’ Home dates back to 1939; the composition credits go to Charlie Christian and Benny Goodman, as well as to Hamp himself. This version swings like mad, the band member’s sing the original Illinois Jacquet sax solo and there is much riffing as Hamp works the crowd up to a frenzy. He returns to play Hamp’s Boogie Woogie with the rhythm section and Al Grey on trombone.

The final paragraph of Donald Elfman’s sleeve note says;

"The glory of Lionel Hampton in these performances is that, as much a showman/ leader as he is, he can still take pleasure – and let the audience take pleasure – in the spirited playing of the soloists he has assembled. The unflagging exuberance and the individual and collective spirit in both the playing and the on-stage atmosphere come through loud and clear.

And this is truly timeless"

I agree.

Don Mather



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