Music Reviews

Lionel Hampton

Newport Uproar!

lionel hampton newport uproar

Pure Pleasure/RCA Victor

Formats available: Vinyl

Big band, with my reputation! It’s not usually my bag but this 1967 recording is something else, for a start it’s fabulously energetic and large scale and brass never sounds as good as it does on top notch vinyl. Something that Pure Pleasure knows all about.

Lionel Hampton had a pretty stellar career, he popularised the vibraphone in jazz music, played with a who’s who of jazz musicians including the Benny Goodman Quartet, Charlie Mingus, Wes Montgomery, Dinah Washington and Dizzy Gillespie. His ‘Flying Home’ featured here was a hit in 1942. But by the mid sixties his fortunes were in decline and he might well have seen this performance at Newport as a last ditch opportunity to revive a flagging career. Hampton and his sizeable band whip up both remarkable vitality and some top grooves, ‘Greasy Greens’ is the highlight in this respect thanks to a blues theme and some fine tenor sax playing from Illinois Jacquet. The rest of the band, which included Milt Buckner on piano, were all top notch guys who must also have been feeling the change in the wind that the sixties brought in.

The sound here is typical of its era inasmuch as the brass is not as full bodied as it can be but the recording captures a lot energy and the way a large ensemble can swing so nimbly when directed by an old master. In essence it is the sound of great musicians having a ball and an audience that is thoroughly enjoying it, something that will never go out of style.

Jason Kennedy

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