Hampton Hawes: Yesterdays




Hampton Hawes (piano)


This Is Hampton Hawes, Vol. 2: The Trio (OJC 318 originally Contemporary 3515)

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Hampton Hawes (piano), Red Mitchell (bass), Chuck Thompson (drums).

Composed by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach


Recorded: Los Angeles, December 3, 1955


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

Hampton Hawes' style integrated vestiges of stride with his own version of bebop. His sound was uniquely his own. Recorded in the back warehouse of the Contemporary Records office in 1955, the same year that he was acknowledged by Metronome magazine as “arrival of the year”, Hawes' recording of "Yesterdays" showed that he had indeed arrived. Playing with Red Mitchell on bass and Chuck Thompson on drums, the pianist stretched out in this classic recording.

Perhaps the casualness of his surroundings contributed to the easy flow of this recording. Hawes stylistically embellished introduction, with its elongated arpeggios, runs and flowery flourishes, presents a window into his story-telling soul. His romanticized intro is in stark contrast to the bouncy, free-flowing swing he ultimately settles into on the chorus. I am especially fond of the climbing, slightly dissonant, percussive run he uses before Mitchell and Thompson join in and the tempo moves upward. His approach is both joyous and harmonically rich as he is encouraged along by Mitchell. Hamp’s swing subtly floats in an effortless display of sublime West Coast cool. When Mitchell solos, it is with equal harmonic invention. Thompson lays back nicely in the pocket, never intruding on the conversation between Mitchell and Hawes. Hamp’s delivery is effervescent and he conveys a profound sense of joy while exploring the bounds of musical sophistication, a rare quality matched by few of his peers.

Reviewer: Ralph A. Miriello

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