Lionel Hampton

Aurex Jazz Festival '81: All Star Big Band & Woody Herman

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For pure on-stage enthusiasm, it's hard to beat a big band led by Lionel Hampton. The vibraphonist seems especially inspired during these excerpts from three separate 1981 concerts in Japan. Sure, he revisits a lot of familiar material, including a hot "Air Mail Special," a gently swinging "Sweet Georgia Brown," and the obligatory "Hamp's Boogie Woogie," the latter of which features Hampton encouraging the audience to scat along with him as he plays drums. But there's also Ricky Ford's tribute to a fellow tenor saxophonist, "Dexter" (Dexter Gordon), who recorded with Hampton as a young man during the 1940s. The hot trumpet solo in "I Can't Get Started" is likely by Conte Candoli, though one would have to be able to translate the Japanese liner notes to be sure. Guest Woody Herman adds his clarinet to a swinging treatment of "Rose Room." The staccato clapping of the audience accompanies the upbeat rendition of Glenn Miller's theme song, "In the Mood," which adds a chorus of Hampton singing the gospel chant "Amen." Like all Eastwind LPs released in the Aurex Jazz Festival series, the excellent sound adds to the value of this rewarding music.