The Complete Lionel Hampton Victor Sessions 1937-41 (#238)

Mosaic Records Limited Edition Box Set


The Complete Lionel Hampton Victor Sessions 1937-41 (#238)
"Motored by a seemingly limitless supply of energy and stamina, Hampton's playing is known the world over for its relentless physicality, unhampered technical facility, and a seemingly imperturbale inventiveness." - Gunther Schuller, The Swing Era

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Limited Edition: 5000 copies

5 CDs -  $85.00


Hampton Wasnít the First, But He Was the Man Everyone Followed

Would we know how jazz is played on the vibes without Lionel Hampton? He introduced the concept of personality to an instrument thought to be sterile and cold; showed how to solo with authority and accompany with grace; taught how to make the instrument express emotions as divergent as tender melancholy and unrestrained joy Ö and did it all with the recordings now available from Mosaic.

We regard this set as among our very significant releases, because of the moment in music it captures; because of the quality of the music and the sidemen; because of the comprehensive nature of the collection; and because of the sound quality, improved over all other releases thanks to our luck in tracking down every original Victor metal part and test pressing.

The big change in Hampton's career came when Benny Goodman traveled to Los Angeles in 1936. When Goodman heard Hampton, his trio became a quartet. After he left Goodman in 1940, Hampton formed a big band. But during 1937 to 1941, while he was still recording with Goodman, Hampton began making these small group recordings.

Quickly he found himself at the center of the swing world, and able to attract the most sought-after musical names and voices. On one session, he led the all-star reed section of Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins, Chu Berry, and Ben Webster, along with Dizzy Gillespie, Clyde Hart, Charlie Christian, Milt Hinton, and Cozy Cole. How's that for a line-up?

Another set included Henry "Red" Allen, J.C. Higginbottham, Earl Bostic, Clyde Hart, Charlie Christian, Artie Bernstein and Sid Catlett. Then there was Buster Bailey, Johnny Hodges, Jess Stacy, Allen Reuss, John Kirby and Cozy Cole. The groupings are truly inspired.

Along with the Goodman sidemen sessions and the Ellington sidemen sessions, Hampton recorded with the early Nat "King" Cole Trio, the unmistakable Harry James, plus Russell Procope, Rex Stewart, Harry Carney, Sonny Greer, Freddie Green, Sir Charlies Thompson - the list goes on and on.

This collection includes all of Hampton's known recordings for Victor; 108 in all. Our lavish booklet includes never before published photographs; liner notes by Grammy winner Loren Schoenberg; and the first complete discography of the dates, culled from the Victor file cards and session sheets and cross-referenced against a number of authoritative sources.

Read More About Lionel Hampton:
Track Listing, Personnel & Recording Dates Ľ

  • Booklet
  • Audio Quality
  • Photography
  • Sample Session Notes
For this set we once again called upon the talents of Loren Schoenberg whose insight and depth of knowledge and passion of the classic eras of jazz are unparalleled. For instance he writes: "Here we have the birth, if the not the apex, in the long legacy of Lionel Hampton records with stomping tenor sax solos.sweethearts on parade finds (Chu) Berry creating a new sound in the tenor saxophone lexicon. This style leavened with an equal dose of Lester Young, would give birth a decade later to the honkiní R&B sounds that led to early rock and roll. While Illinois Jacquet stoked that fire, it was set by Berry and Young. Equally striking is the sheer perfection of the rhythm section. They carry off one of the most perfect shuffle beats ever recorded. Most times, shuffles get sloppy and heavy because of a lack of definition in the subtle strong and weak parts of the defining beat. The precision heard here allows Hart, Reuss, Hinton and Cole to dig deeply into the groove and Berry is with them every swinging quarter note of the way. "

The Victor label took great strides to keep all their metal parts stored properly and also made up a number of test pressings throughout the years. Even with the passage of time, these source copies proved to be invaluable to us in recapturing the truest sound possible for our Lionel Hampton.

Photo Copyright © Protected
Lionel Hampton
The photographs used here came from the collections of Frank Driggs, Duncan Schiedt and Charles Peterson. Instead of using familiar images of Hamp, there are a number of rare photos of him not only at the vibes, but at the piano and drums which he displays in magnificent fashion in this set. There are also rare shots of arranger Fred Norman, Jonah Jones, Benny Carter and the September 11, 1939 session with Carter, Coleman Hawkins, Chu Berry and Ben Webster.

(g) July 21, 1938

Hampton hits pay dirt for the first time with arrangements and players that are of equal quality. Benny Carter, 30 years old and just back after three years in Europe, announced his return to his native country with brilliant writing and playing, aided by a band full of mostly newcomers to New York who responded in inspired fashion to Carterís scores. Itís worth noting that the great bulk of musicians on these sessions were under 30, and that their work, for all its maturity, still has the sheen of youth to it. Texas is represented by 22 year-old Benny Goodman trumpeter Harry James (his family moved there from Georgia when he was in his mid-teens), and 28 year old Herschel Evans, featured tenor saxophonist (along with Lester Young) with Count Basie. Evans had met Hampton in Charlie Echolsís West Coast band in 1935 and then worked with Hamptonís own big band before joining the Basie in late 1936. It was Basieís rhythm section which astounded New York, and its drummer was Jo Jones (26), known for his emphasis on playing the flow of the rhythm rather than its strict demarcation. Dave Matthews (27) was to become better known as a tenor saxophonist/arranger, but at this time was leading the Goodman reed section, from which tenor man Babe Russin (27) had just migrated to the Tommy Dorsey band. As we have seen, John Kirby (29) was a mainstay of jazz record dates at this time, and was just months away from his first session as a leader Ė his pianist was Billy Kyle (24).

Iím In The Mood For Swing is not only a highlight in the Hampton and Carter discographies, but a jazz classic for all time. Everything comes together and a synergy takes place where the sum is truly greater than even these distinguished parts. Carter had a way of composing that created a perfect balance between written and improvised segments, and his mastery of orchestration placed everything in the optimal register for all the instruments at hand. Here, itís a relatively intimate ensemble of trumpet, four saxophones, vibes and a three piece rhythm section (minus the standard for the time guitar).

Harry James was one of the most technically gifted trumpeters of his generation and a member of Goodmanís band, where he had become one of its most popular soloists. Unabashedly in love with Louis Armstrongís music, he turned down a major magazine award as Best Trumpeter, stating that he couldnít accept while Armstrong was still playing. Just a few years later, George T. Simon, a major chronicler of the big band era wrote that James ďactually cried the last time he heard Louis play.Ē Not content to ape his idol, as Louis Prima and many others did, James was already his own man as he takes the lead during the first chorus, working his way naturally into a series of paraphrases and then free inventions that never lose site of the theme.

What follows is truly magical Ė Carter creating a solo that for all its spontaneity has the hallmarks of a classic composition. His use of symmetry can be heard in all its glory. Every phrase leads to the next, rhyming without falling into the trap of predictability. He also knows how to utilize space Ė the pause at the end of the bridge is a master stroke, filled as it is by Kyleís descending left hand scale. Of Carterís many innovations, it was his perfection of the saxophone soli that most people remember, and the one he crafted here is as representative of the genre as any.

Shoe Shinerís Drag (recorded by King Oliver as London Blues) makes great use of a series of breaks. Carterís elegant scoring of this Jelly Roll Morton blues is taken at what drummer Mel Lewis used to call an ďin-the-crack tempoĒ that most bands avoid, since the tendency of many players is to either accelerate or decelerate to where they are more comfortable. Itís worth noting that Mortonís wife Mabel was the sister of Hamptonís mentor Jimmy Bertrand. As has always been the case, the blues function here as blank slate for the players to assert their musical personalities. Hampton, busy as a bee with arpeggios, double-time figures and the occasional dissonance, Carter poised and articulate, slightly more woody on the clarinet, James slashing through the changes like one of the Three Musketeers, and the piece de resistance, 12 bars of cascading blues-drenched southwestern sounds from Evans that make his death only seven months later all the more poignant. For all their differences, the solos mesh into a complete statement, unified by Carterís setting and the players own innate humility and desire for the greater good. Matthews is responsible for the short alto statement towards the end of the performance.

Both this piece and Muskrat Ramble were unusual choices in 1938, and itís a pleasure to hear them in these streamlined Carter reinterpretations. The latter includes some subtle but adventurous accents from Jo Jones, who spends the great majority of the session pedaling smoothly with his trademark hi-hat work. Bassist Kirbyís work is off kilter harmonically; it would be one thing if he was playing harmolodically with Ornette Coleman, but in this context the effect is disconcerting. The result is a series of linear solos that are not necessarily connected to the bass line, which meanders all over the place. A close examination of Evansís chorus reveals great ambiguity in its 8+8 bar structure; it sounds as if he turns the beat around at one point. Jones, long accustomed to structural sleight of hand after years with Basie and Lester Young goes right along with it all, poker-faced. Carter, who follows on the clarinet, picks up the floating idea seamlessly and itís not until halfway through his solo that things get back on the grid.

Itís a worthy reminder that playing across the bar lines was not something that Lennie Tristano and company introduced to the jazz world, though they turned it into a cornerstone of their approach. James swashbuckles again with Jones catching his last off-beat note as though it was the most natural thing in the world. Matthews always sounded a little jumbled and slightly less than coherent on the alto, and heís followed by Kyle whose stabbing, off-kilter left hand jabs are one of the many legacies Earl Hines bequeathed to his fellow pianists. Russinís chorus is typically smooth and is distinguished by his above-average lyricism. Hampton was a competitive player, and Carterís placing him last in a string of solos, with limited space, was a smart choice to elicit his best.

Anytime At All is notable for Jamesís original stylings with the melody in the first chorus. Everything seemed to be in perfect balance for him, and it was only after he formed his own band that his ballad work took on the schmaltzy quality that helped skyrocket him to fame. Babe Russin was known for his advanced harmonic sense and his obbligato to the leaderís vocal is in the same high league as his contemporaneous accompaniments to Billie Holiday and Maxine Sullivan. Hampton sounds unusually like his peer Red Norvo in the coda.


Click here to write a review

Take a listen to the sound clips. A good representative of the set. Whatever you think of Hamp's vocals there's no knocking the musicians, the bands, and the performances. This is some of the great swing music, and Hamp's vibes are glorious.
  BUT- without the vocals , it isn't complete!
I've had this set for a while now and it's one of my favorite Mosaic sets. Hamp's vocals are a matter of taste (I like them)- but it completes this time in his amazing career when he had other great musicians coming in to play with him. The sidemen are a "Who's Who" of the era! This music has always been highly rated and, with Mosaic's improved sound, you will love this swinging set!
  Mr. Hamp
Somewhat uneven box set, the vocals aren't great, merely ok; the material is not always first rate; but the musicianship is superb. So, in general somewhat of a hodge-podgy feel to the set. When the material is good, and Hamp isn't singing, this is tremendous swing music, some of th best.
I tried to transfer this great swinging music from my old Lionel Hampton 6-LP set to CD but the pops and tinny sound led me to buy Mosaic's set. As usual, their sharp, expert sound transfers and research make it more than worth the price. Don't hesitate- you won't be sorry. As a side note, it takes a classy company like Mosaic to include in the set two extra CDs as replacements for two "defective" (i.e. merely mislabeled) discs. Thank you, Mosaic, for being the great company that you are.. it's appreciated!!
  Hamp's Vocals
I love Hamp's vocals! There's no accounting for taste I guess, or the lack thereof...
  Joyous Music
This is an absolutely spectacular collection. I was not familiar with this music and hesitated based on comments about the vocals. Forget about that. This is joyous stuff that you will listen to often. And Loren Schoenberg's notes are brilliant.
The bands are tremendous. Hampton seems to bring a lot of players up to another level. His playing is consistently inspired. His vocals are medicore, but not bad. Overall, the various vocals are not up to the instrumentalists but a minor complaint and not that big of a deal. Some of the tracks and sessions are among the very best swing music I've ever heard. Highly recommended.
  They Can
This was a gift to me - real good saxophonist and real good band. Never heard these guys before - they can play. They should be famous. I've never heard them on the radio.
  The Complete Lionel Hampton Victor Sessions, 1937-1941.
When I ordered this monumental 5-CD boxed a month ago, I was deeply impressed on how great of a job both RCA Records and Moasic have done. They did such a perfect job on it, and it is one of the greatest and most monumental boxed sets that Mosaic has ever put out. Containing five whole big band sessions that digitally-remastered and restored to its sheer and fun-filled brilliance, they have not only bring Lionel Hampton to the ranks of the Swing Era, but have made him an international star. I will always be enchanted by this wonderful perfect boxed set and we will be sure everyone else who orders it will have the same agreement. Oh yes, Mosaic could also give the same treatment to Lionel Hampton's Decca sides of the 1940's (1942-49) and present them in another winning boxed set. Oh yes, he also recorded two albums for Decca in the early-1950's, they are Birmingham Bounce (1950) and Moonglow (1951), but they have to be reissued on seperate CD in complete expanded format. So, thank you again Mosaic Records for putting out another complete historic CD boxed set.
  Great Collection
I too have been waiting decades for someone to publish these recordings with this kind of sound quality and attention to detail. Don`t pay any attention to the quibbles about Hampton`s occasional jivy vocals. Sprinkled throughout this collection are some of the best swing recordings ever made. If you have a passion for jazz in any form, you must hear these. Mosaic scores again!!
  Great Collection
I too have been waiting decades for someone to publish these recordings with this kind of sound quality and attention to detail. Don`t pay any attention to the quibbles about Hampton`s occasional jivey vocals. Sprinkled throughout this collection are some of the best swing recordings ever made. If you have a passion for jazz in amy form, you must hear these. Mosaic scores again!!
Do a majority of sides have Hampton's vocals? Really? Seriously, how much vocals are in this set?
  Great Swingin' Hamp
Thank you Mosaic, you've done it again.A wonderful Five CD set.Been waiting 50 years for this set,it was worth the wait. Brilliant,brilliant,brilliant!!!! K.J.Massey----United Kingdom
  Lionel on center stage
Despite excellent sidemen they have too little imput on many of the tracks. Lionel singing is the major problem. A majority of the sides feature his vocals which are poor at best.
  The Swing that won the war
With 6 albums of foot tappin swing from Lionel Hampton's Victor sessions 1937-1941 it is easy to see why we won WW11

The Complete Lionel Hampton Victor Sessions 1937-41 (#238)
The Complete Lionel Hampton Victor Sessions 1937-41 (#238)
Limited Edition: 5000 copies
5 CDs - $85.00

Customer Reviews:

"Thank you Mosaic, you've done it again.A wonderful Five CD set. Been waiting 50 years for this set,it was worth the wait. Brilliant,brilliant,brilliant!!!!"
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Mosaic Podcast

Jazz scholar and Executive Director of The National Jazz Museum in Harlem, Loren Schoenberg, discusses some of the inside details of the new Lionel Hampton Box Set.

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