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In the late 50s big band jazz was still the hottest ticket around for European audiences and nobody was better at rallying a troupe, or seducing a crowd, than the one-and-only Lionel Hampton. He’d made his name in the 30s, playing with the likes of Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman, before establishing himself as a giant of the genre in the 40’s and taking names like Quincy Jones, Dinah Washington, Charles Mingus and Dizzy Gillespie under his wing. For this pioneering vibraphonist, pianist and composer, there were few noteworthy characters that he didn’t end up influencing.
Here, coming off the back of a seminal album with Stan Getz (“Gladys,” a song from that album, is delivered here), he fronts an all-star line-up for a Belgian spectators who seem in a state of rapture whenever the camera lingers on their faces. Among many ensemble pieces, it is “History Of Jazz” that perhaps stands out the most: to coincide with the various stages Hampton stops playing and explains the shift in the music for the audience: “first, the traditional blues, from New Orleans….”