SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews
Lionel Hampton – The Lionel Hampton Quartet – Verve/Clef Records/Pure Pleasure Records
Published on February 11, 2011
Lionel Hampton – The Lionel Hampton Quartet – Verve/Clef Records/Pure Pleasure Records – mono 180g audiophile vinyl CLEF MG-673 *****:
(Lionel Hampton – vibes; Oscar Peterson – piano; Ray Brown – bass; Buddy Rich – drums)
Expectations are high when four iconic musicians form to record an album. Suffice to say that The Lionel Hampton Quartet meets and ultimately exceeds those expectations. Recorded in New York in September 1953 and April 1954, this LP, flawlessly reproduced, combines a mixture of instrumental virtuosity and song interpretation.
The first track is a spirited arrangement of the Cole Porter classic, “Just One Of Those Things”. Opening with Peterson playing lead, the song begins as a tightly arranged jazz trio with Brown and Rich providing a seamless rhythm section. On the second verse, Hampton joins with his distinctive hammering style to propel the piece into an up tempo improvisation. On the next track, Benny Goodman’s big band opus, “Stompin ’ At The Savoy” (Goodman ,Chick Webb and Edgar Sampson), the Quartet maintains the song structure but pares down the arrangement to afford Hampton the freedom to explore the melody trading off with Peterson’s nuanced and subtly dexterous lead play. As Peterson joins the Brown/ Rich rhythm section, the unity of the four piece band is further solidified.
The second side opens with “How High the Moon” (Morgan Lewis), popularized in foxtrot by Glenn Miller. A melodic piece, this arrangement infuses urgency and passion, as the tempo is accelerated. Hampton’s mastery of his instrument is in full display as his playing soars with extended improvisational runs. Peterson turns in a tasteful and exquisite solo, and Buddy Rich punctuates the song with a brilliant solo. Percussion by vibes, piano and drums has never been better. The final track is a slow and elegant version of Hoagy Carmichael’s “The Nearness of You”. The musicians are able to exhibit their artistry without overpowering this laconic nostalgic song. Ray Brown’s bass lines are impeccable and in perfect complement to Hampton’s smooth vibe play and Peterson’s artistic touch.
Music of this caliber is rarely captured in the moment. As in all truly great records, the listener will clamor for …..MORE.
Side 1: Just One Of Those Things, Stompin’ At The Savoy Side 2: How High the Moon, The Nearness Of You
— Robbie Gerson