Hampton Hawes Vol 2 The Trio (1955-6) UK Contemporary


Selection 1: Round Midnight

Selection 2: You and the Night and the Music


Hampton Hawes (p)  Red Mitchell (b) Chuck Thompson (d) Los Angeles CA, recorded at the Police Academy, Chavez Ravine, June 28, 1955, Los Angeles, CA, December 3, 1955 and  January 25, 1956.


The young Hawes trained his right hand to reconstruct the horn lines of Charlie Parker, and by the time he had finished absorbing the rhythmic influences of stride and swing piano, gospel and blues, combined with a virtuoso right hand, he arrived at an outstanding personal style among the most accomplished in a crowded field of Fifties jazz piano

He recorded many superb trio sets in those years, highlights of the West-Coast jazz scene, including three records early on with bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Chuck Thompson, from which series this LP originates. The last of the three was modestly titled Everybody Likes Hampton Hawes, a piece of marketing genius drawn on in  1959 by Riverside for Everybody Digs Bill Evans, not to mention my new blog Everybody Raves About LJC!

Recording  in 1955 at the LA Police Academy – beneficiary Police Widows and Orphans Fund – turned out a poor investment for Hawes, as in 1958 he was caught up in a Fed drug sting selling drugs to an agent, and subsequently awarded a brutally disproportionate  ten-year prison sentence, belatedly halved in an  Executive Clemency Order from JFK in 1963. Another example of the futile war on drugs jazz musicians. Right problem, wrong solution.

Vinyl: Contemporary Vogue LAC 12081 First UK release, Mono

Decca pressing 170gm;  mastered by one of Decca’s top classical music engineers “E”  – Stanley Goodall, who also mastered the magnificent Decca pressing of UK Contemporary Vogue’s release of Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section, instead of Decca’s usual jazz engineer “B” – Ron Mason.

The matrix indicates a second lacquer cutting of each side, 2E/2E, suggesting Stan was a perfectionist ( or fluffed the first master each time). Goodall was one of the architects of the famous “Decca Tree” – an array of three Neuman U50 omnidirectional microphones used in some classical recordings. Stan’s ear would have been working here with the US tape.

Decca’s strength was its engineers, and its classical music expertise, which rubbed off on other aspects of the business, which is why the quality of its mastering and pressing was so consistently high. It was not marketing, cost-accounting or BS, which is why some record companies like CBS Oriole produced consistently lacklustre quality (what the BS in CBS stands for)



Collectors Corner

Envy rating 2smug-index-2-cool-2



Source: Collection  of the late Brian Clark

The third title Everyone loves Hampton Hawes led me to an American sitcom Everyone Loves Raymond.

In Everyone Loves Raymond, I found this set-piece episode replaying the eternal battle between the Evil Silver Disc and Vinyl spans a generation in this brief sitcom episode, in the end of which Dad, finally reunited with his jazz records, sniffs a vintage vinyl record with approval – “genuine American vinyl…”

In the final scene (after a few minutes of slapstick sitcom)…

With Ray’s remastered CD albums failing Frank, Robert saves the day by giving him some of the original vinyl copies he lost long ago.

The episode closes with Frank finally listening to his old records again, sitting relaxed in his chair, lost in the music, naught a whisper emerging from the other CD-loving son .

The only sound we can hear is “Bye Bye Blackbird,” played with the grain and warmth Frank had been looking for since his vinyl records were originally destroyed.

“Now that’s music,” he remarks.


6 thoughts on “Hampton Hawes Vol 2 The Trio (1955-6) UK Contemporary

  1. I like Hampton Hawes. His style seems more playful and jovial than some of the NY guys who seem to play a bit harder. I haven’t heard this record yet, but look forward to searching it out. Thanks for the recommendation!


  2. A great record from one of the most underrated jazz musicians. I will forever wonder what we might have heard if Hampton Hawes had made it to New York and worked with Alfred Lion and the great innovators of the East Coast scene.

    I couldn’t agree more regarding the superb quality of Decca recordings and mastering (until they were consumed by Philips), although EMI’s HMV and Columbia organizations could give them a run for their money on a good day.

    Here’s a great article on Decca’s crucial role in the development of stereophonic sound and the evolution of the Decca tree:

    Click to access v18n1-3p4-19.pdf


  3. But what a piece of luck discovering that the President can order your release, and then writing from his prison cell to JFK for exactly that…..and then JFK ordering his release, if it was a Hollywood movie nobody would believe it.


  4. What a great trio session. I particularly enjoy hearing Red Mitchell in this setting. I have these HH sessions on later, 1970’s Contemporary pressings. They still sound good, but I’m always looking for the originals, which are fortunately somewhat reasonably priced in general. I’ll find them eventually.


  5. Having read his autobiography, Raise Up Off Me (which I recommend) he was not exactly a clean-living, respectable upstanding citizen. Was 10 years too harsh for trafficing heroin? Perhaps. Going AWOL from the army to score and being sent to Leavenworth. Justified. Was living your life always being hassled by the LAPD fair? Of course not.

    Great music and a great natural talent, nonetheless.


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