One of the standout gems from Lion
el Hampton's 50s sessions for Verve – wonderful small combo recordings that let Hamp stretch out in freer solo space than usual! Although the Hampton fame always lay in his popularly-touring bigger band, and all its related pyrotechnics, we've always loved Lion
el's sound in a more intimate setting – and the way his ringing tone on the vibes prefaces work to come in later years by Bobby Hutcherson, Steve Nelson, and others – bold, soulful, and surprisingly modern at times. There's a metallic quality to the solo work on these sides that we really like a lot – and which offers a nice contrast to Milt Jackson's vibes of the period through its more powerfully pronounced understanding of the instrument's tone. The core group is a quartet – with Oscar Peterson on piano, Ray Brown on bass, and Buddy Rich on drums – and half the set features the clarinet of Buddy DeFranco. All tracks are nice and long – almost jam-session style – and titles include "Soft Winds", "Airmail Special", "The Way You Look Tonight", and "It's Only A Paper Moon".
(Original black label Clef pressing, with trumpeter logo & deep groove. Cover has split seams held with tape, half split spine, a large stain on the bottom 4 inches, with some stuck-on paper/peeling, and an inspection sticker on the opening.)