Claude Hopkins: Swing Time

Claude Hopkins led big bands from the early ’30s until the mid-’40s, including some elegantly hot outfits. In later years he appeared in a lot of old-style aggregations, but his piano style is definitely swing, sort of an amalgam of Wilson, Garner, and Basie approaches. The fine group assembled for Swing Time includes Budd Johnson, Vic Dickenson, and little-known trumpeter Bobby Johnson. The second session, Let’s Jam, has a looser feel, and features Buddy Tate and Joe Thomas. Tate’s full-bodied tenor is shown to advantage, and he plays nice clarinet on one track. Thomas’ classic phrasing, sound, and drive lift the proceedings considerably.