A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.
This Contemporary Yellow Label LP has THE BEST SOUND and THE BEST MUSIC I have EVER heard on a Hampton Hawes album! When we dropped the needle on this one we could not believe our ears — it’s got The Big Sound, that’s for sure.
The piano has real weight, the bass is deep and tight, and the drums sound correct. The overall sound is rich, sweet, and tonally correct from top to bottom. It’s incredibly open and transparent — you hear tons of ambience.
Drop the needle on Blue In Green on side two — the sound of the bowed bass is WONDERFUL.
This is my favorite Hampton Hawes record of all time. He died less than a year after these sessions. Looking at the cover, you can almost see in his face his acceptance of the end he knew was coming. He plays with deep emotion here. Ray Brown and Shelly Manne (the same rhythm section who back Joe Sample on my all-time favorite piano trio album) accompany him beautifully. The version of Killing Me Softly With His Song that opens the album is lovely.
One high point of this album is the interview that Lester Koenig conducts with Hampton Hawes on the back cover. Lester died soon thereafter himself.