Ray Copeland (tp), Jimmy Cleveland (tb), Lucky Thompson (ts), Lionel Hampton (vib, marimba, p), Oscar Dennard (p), Oscar Pettiford (b), Gus Johnson (d)
Reference: FSRCD 446
Bar code: 8427328604468
This CD compiles for the first time all the tracks recorded by this Lionel Hamptons All-Star group in 1956. Originally produced by Jazztone Records, most of them appeared on a 12" LP (JZ-1238); the rest were released on a 10" (J-1040), and on a 7" EP (J-723). You will not only hear Hampton lead this group with his extraordinary dynamism and energy as a leader, and his phenomenal improvisational capacity as an instrumentalist (vibes, piano, marimba), but also shines in his role as a jazz composer of great feeling.
Hampton is surrounded here by some established jazz masters such as tenor saxophonist Lucky Thompson, bassist Oscar Pettiford, trombonist Jimmy Cleveland, drummer Gus Johnson, and by two then-newcomers to the scene: pianist Oscar Dennard, and trumpeter Ray Copeland. The music is full of rhythmic and blowing excitement thanks to the talents of the jazzmen involved, and comes close to stomping in several places.
"Fresh Sound presents 17 solid selections retrieved from Lionel Hampton's brief involvement with the Jazztone label. Recorded in New York City during the summer of 1956, this mixture of standards, ballads, and original work represents mainstream jazz at its warmest, friendliest, and most accessible. Hamp's front line consisted of trumpeter Ray Copeland, trombonist Jimmy Cleveland, and tenor saxophonist Lucky Thompson; the rhythm people were pianist Oscar Dennard, bassist Oscar Pettiford, and drummer Gus Johnson.
Hamp played vibraphone on all but two of the tracks; he is heard at the piano on "Look! Four Hands" and does marvelous things with a marimba on Gerry Mulligan's "Time for Lyons." The Jazztone record label existed between the years 1955 and 1957. It was a short-lived outgrowth of the Concert Hall Society, a predominately classical mail order company; jazz historian George T. Simon served as Jazztone's A&R director. Although portions of the Jazztone catalog were marketed through retail record stores, availability and distribution were often dicey.
Jazztone recordings were reissued in Germany on that country's version of the Jazztone label; in France on Guilde du Jazz, and in the U.S. on Hall of Fame Records. Fresh Sound's Jazztone reissue campaign is a milestone in the exciting world of revived and rediscovered jazz, as this long-forgotten catalog contains what adds up to some of the best mainstream jazz recordings of the mid-'50s, comparable to what Norman Granz was achieving with his Verve label during that time period. Lionel Hampton's portion of the Jazztone story epitomizes the label's dedication to the type of jazz that had its roots in the mingled traditions of swing, bop, and cool."
Arwilf Arwulf -All Music Guide