Posts Tagged ‘Vibes

02
Aug
19

Lionel Hampton “Silver Vibes”

For some reason, I never put this record on, most likely because the cover makes you think it’s not all that much. I mean, a photograph of what I assume is a vibraphone, closeup, from the top—and you know, it may as well be a boardwalk. Or some shit stacked in a warehouse. The vibraphone is one of the coolest looking instruments—but not from the top. I mean, it could be stairs, or a fence. If it was out of context, you’d have no idea what it was at all. Terrible cover. Come on Columbia records! You know how they say “you can’t judge a book by its cover?” That goes for everything, metaphorically or not, and certainly vinyl records. Do I, Mister Smart Guy, have a better suggestion? I certainly do: Lionel Hampton playing the vibes. Lionel Hampton with the musicians on this record. Lionel Hampton partying. Lionel Hampton getting tea. Lionel Hampton and Lionel Ritchie getting tea. Lionel Hampton playing with Lionel Trains. Lionel Hampton in The Hamptons. Lionel Hampton eating breakfast. Lionel Hampton sitting across the desk from some jackass at Columbia Records pleading to have a better album cover. In short, any photograph of Lionel Hampton at all would be better than this cover.

Of course, I am familiar with Lionel Hampton, and as soon as I put this on, I knew it was a mistake to not have worn this record out. Incidentally, me and this record, we’re like the same age. But if I was half this fresh, I’d be getting slapped so much I’d need a weekly dentist appointment. Can’t afford it. Anyway, the liner notes are good and almost make up for the cover. I’ll type a bit: Jangling nerves? Here’s music with a wonderful, silvery tone, varied by the darker colors of trombones. This is smooth, easy-going music, that swings, nevertheless. It goes on. I love the description of the trombones having a “dark color”—it makes total sense when you think about it, and it really does sound lovely on this record, the trombone heavy arrangements with vibes over the top. It’s cool, kind of earthy, and simultaneously breezy and melancholy. Some standards I know, some I don’t, but it doesn’t matter, this is just the perfect record for a Friday night (which it is) to unwind (which I’m doing) while mixing a cocktail from your well-stocked bachelor bar (not exactly doing that; having coffee), waiting for your date to arrive (waiting being the top-heavy part of that sentiment). After this, maybe I’ll put on one of those thrift-store, easy-listening, budget classics: Music for Waiting.

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21
Aug
17

Lionel Hampton “Apollo Hall Concert 1954”

If you believe the title of this record, and why not, it’s a live recording of Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra from 1954 at Apollo Hall. There are some audience noises, but not so much that it’s annoying. I find live rock records almost unlistenable (except maybe in a ironic, comic way) due to the crowd noise, dumb shit said between songs, and the sped-up, adrenaline (or coke) fueled versions of songs. Maybe I’m kinder to live  jazz because I know less about it; I can’t confidently tell a good performance from a bad one, but I guess I definitely like some much more than others—performances, musicians, and songs. My dad had a lot of Lionel Hampton records (not this one, but it inspires nostalgia, nonetheless) and my parents played them, so did I, so I kind of grew up listening to him. For whatever reason, vibraphone is my favorite instrument, or second to piano. In some extensive liner notes on the back of this album cover, the anonymous author goes on and on about how popular Lionel Hampton was at this time. As familiar as I am with his music, I know little about him, so maybe I’ll read more—but some other time. The liner notes just about put me under, just now. I’m still reading, actually. It’s a good record, though the last number kind of bums me out—too loud, fast, energetic, crowd-pleasing—though I’m sure if I was seeing it live in 1954, I’d be into it. The liner notes didn’t do much for me either, though I did like this line, when talking about the importance of rhythm: “Rhythm, which exercises a similar intoxicating effect to a glass of good, heady wine, but which leaves no unpleasant hangover.”




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