The New York Allstars, under the leadership of trumpeter Randy Sandke, follow up an earlier tribute to Lionel Hampton with a second volume recorded during the same 1998 concert. Half of this swinging octet is made of Americans (guitarist James Chirillo, trombonist Roy Williams, and drummer Eddie Metz) while the rest are from Europe. No attempt is made to copy Hampton's famous recordings or drastically rearrange them -- it is simply good, loose, and inspired playing throughout, with no one musician hogging the spotlight. Sandke has long since earned his stripes as a soloist and bandleader, though he seems appreciated more in Europe. Clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Antti Sarpila and vibraphonist Lars Erstrand, on the other hand, deserve to be better known in the U.S., though their opportunities to perform in the land that gave birth to jazz are few. Pianist Thilo Wagner and bassist Dave Green help anchor the rhythm section. In addition to an easygoing "Stompin' at the Savoy" and a brisk "How High the Moon," alternate versions of "Air Mail Special" and "Avalon" (both of which are present on the first volume) are added, indicating that the two CDs are likely composites of two separate concerts from the same evening. This is another example of Nagel Heyer's efforts to keep swing alive without turning the music into a series of stuffy museum exhibits.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden