Lionel Hampton

Ring Dem Vibes

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Lionel Hampton's two-day session for Blue Star in 1976 was a very productive date; he only brought along two regulars, guitarist Billy Mackel and pianist/organist Reynold Mullins, but was joined by an assortment of outstanding European players, including pianist Raymond Fol, alto saxophonist Michel Attenoux (who had worked with Hampton before), trombonist Claude Gousset, tenor saxophonist Gerard Badini, bassist Michel Gaudry, and former Ellington drummer Sam Woodyard, who was living and working in Paris. Hampton was only 68 years old at the time of the recording and still had the reputation for wearing out men a third of his age on the bandstand; his enthusiasm is infectious from the opening number, "Ring Dem Bells," as he introduces each soloist in turn in a lively jam. Dany Doriz, the man who had instigated this session, joins Hampton on vibes for a spirited if brief run through "Seven Come Eleven." The leader also revisits old favorites such as his "Vibraphone Blues" (which includes some humorous commentary in addition to his vocal) and standards like "Blue Lou" and "On the Sunny Side of the Street" with the same vigor as when he first recorded them decades earlier. One surprise inclusion is Horace Silver's "Psychedelic Sally," which turns into an extended workout with one hot chorus inspiring yet another. The players mesh very well and each of the soloists is in top form when called upon. Although Lionel Hampton recorded frequently in the second half of the 1970s, this pickup session is among the best of the two dozen or so releases made during this period of his career.

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