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Lionel Hampton: 50th Anniversary Concert

Previously issued on an obscure Buddah double LP, this September 1978 Carnegie Hall concert brought together a large number of all-star players to help honor Hampton’s 50 years in the business. Unfortunately, though, like so many of these affairs, the proceedings were marred by either lack of written charts, inadequate rehearsal time, or, most likely, a combination of both. The results, at least as far as the big band ensembles are concerned, are ragged to the point of embarrassment. But there are isolated solos of merit by such players as Arnett Cobb, Cat Anderson, Joe Newman, Doc Cheatham (especially effective on “Stompin’ at the Savoy”), Benny Powell, and Eddie Bert (in trombone chases on the up blues “Hamp’s the Champ”), Earle Warren, Pepper Adams, and Ray Bryant, as well as some high-spirited cooking by rhythm men Billy Mackel, Chubby Jackson, and Panama Francis.

Hampton, of course, is featured on almost every one of the eleven tracks, either playing vibes, two-fingered piano (“Hamp’s Boogie Woogie”), or singing (“Sunny Side of the Street” and “I’m Confessin'”). Teddy Wilson guests as the single soloist on a multi-tempoed version of “Tea for Two,” while clarinetist Bob Wilber scores in his role as Benny Goodman on “Flying Home” and the quintet tracks that close the album, “Avalon,” “More Than You Know,” and “Runnin’ Wild.”

Originally Published