Sunday, June 3, 2012

Lionel Hampton - not just a great vibraphone player

Long time, no post - I've been short on time, but thankfully not great music! There used to be a category in 'best jazz musician' polls for miscellaneous instruments (violinists, flautists, I'm looking at you!). It's easy to overlook these often great musicians just because they don't fit neatly into our established categories. I'm occasionally guilty of overlooking Lionel Hampton in just this way, but lately I've been digging the atmosphere of his small-group sessions particularly. Let's leave aside his own performances on vibraphone, drums, piano and vocals - they are celebrated elsewhere. I'm more fascinated by the atmosphere on his sessions, a casual yet focused feel that brings to mind the Teddy Wilson/Billie Holiday sessions and the best of Fats Waller's bands.

Here are a few of my current favourites, uploaded to YouTube in gloriously rich sound by SwingMan1937 (Thank you!).

 One of Johnny Hodges' ballad features:

   

 This one really swings:

 

 What a band - Red Allen, Sid Catlett, Charlie Christian, J.C. Higginbotham and more:

 

 Finally, dig this beautiful tune by saxophonist Toots Mondello: