Lionel Hampton – Silver Vibes on Six Eye Columbia

More Records with Exceptionally Tubey Magical Sound

More Vintage Columbia Pressings


  • Hampton’s superb 1960 release makes its Hot Stamper debut with STUNNING Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both of these original stereo sides
  • Three-dimensional space and ambience, Tubey Magic by the boatload – this All Tube recording shows just how good Columbia’s engineers were back then
  • Comprising mostly standards (Skylark, What’s New, Speak Low) performed in a mellow mood, Hampton, his bandmates, and the engineers provide an immersive, enchanting listening experience of very high quality
  • “Although a number of prominent musicians are present, the focus is almost exclusively on the leader in each of the ten brief arrangements… While this record may be a bit low-key, it is still very enjoyable.”

This vintage Columbia Six Eye Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of Silver Vibes have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1960
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

What We’re Listening For on Silver Vibes

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.


Side One

What’s New
Speak Low
‘Til You Return
Blue Moon

Side Two

Walkin’ My Baby Back Home
Day By Day
For Better Or Worse
My Foolish Heart
Poor Butterfly

AMG  Review

Lionel Hampton sticks primarily to standards on each of the three studio sessions that make up Silver Vibes, a Columbia LP taped in 1960.

Although a number of prominent musicians are present, the focus is almost exclusively on the leader in each of the ten brief arrangements. Pianist Tommy Flanagan contributed the lush treatment of “Skylark,” with the vibraphonist backed by a trombone choir consisting of Eddie Bert, Bobby Byrne, Dick Hixson, Santo Russo, and three additional charts.

Teo Macero, better known for his work as a producer, wrote the remaining six arrangements, including a moving “My Foolish Heart.” The various rhythm sections include George Duvivier, Osie Johnson, Skeeter Best, and Billy Mackel, with a young Elvin Jones making an appearance on “Blue Moon.”

The only defect of this album is the incorrect listing of the names of several musicians. While this record may be a bit low-key for fans of the usually exuberant Hampton, it is still very enjoyable.

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