Continue Your Week With Hampton Hawes

Things are popping around here on several fronts, sending the development of blog posts to the back burner. The good news is that the Rifftides staff has come across film of Hampton Hawes in action with three of his peers. The quality of the new print outshines that of a previous web version. In visual and audio clarity, it may not be in the same league as 2012 digital videos, but it takes you from a 1970 Los Angeles sidewalk into a club where four major musicians are at work. This was Shelly’s Manne Hole, where we find the proprietor on drums and Hawes on piano, with bassist Ray Brown and the drastically underappreciated tenor saxophonist Bob Cooper. They play a blues initiated by Brown, and then “Stella by Starlight” and “Milestones.” You may want to pour yourself something pleasant and settle back. This voyage into the past lasts a half-hour

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  1. Jim Brown says

    Wow, this really is special. Everyone on the band is really special. A real time capsule. And yet it’s just another night in a major LA jazz club “in the day” when so many great players lived there, jumped in the car, and came out to play. This is the same rhythm section, minus Hawes, that made Way Out West with Sonny Rollins ten years earlier. The TV producers weren’t the only ones that loved that vamp that Ray played on the opening blues — Ray was still using it 30 years later.

    Because he’s off-mic most of the time, it’s easy to miss how much energy Coop is bringing to the bandstand. I’ve long appreciated his appreciation of Al Cohn, a guy I miss an awful lot, but he sure doesn’t stop with Al. .

    One night in the mid-70s I was visiting LA for an AES convention, and made the trek from my hotel to Donte’s to hear Hamp for the first time. It wasn’t to be — word came that he had just passed, and the set became a memorial.

    • Lee Brenkman says


      I think you’re the same Jim Brown that I’ve encountered at the Stanford Jazz Workshop,

      I’ll bet Bob Cooper was sufficienty loud and strong enough for the persons present that night at Shelly’s Manne Hole and didn’t grasp that he had to be on mic for the recording.

      I too was in Los Angeles for AES and phoned Donte’s to ask what time the first set was that night and got the bad news of Hampton Hawes’ stroke.

      I had done the sound reinforcement for all of his San Francisco performances for several years and had recorded a live duo session that was later released on Concord Records.

      I spent many hours with Hamp and his girlfriend Josie and miss him and his music to this day.

      I also miss Al Cohn and his sometimes co-leader Zoot Sims. Great guys all of them and very accepting of me back when I still was a “young” sound man.

  2. roger hunter says

    This is, I think, one of three TV shows produced by Jack Lewerke of Vault Records. There was another by Hampton Hawes recorded at the Memory Lane Club and featuring Harry edison, Sonny Criss, Teddy Edwards,Leroy Vinnegar,Bobby Thompson & Big Joe Turner. That opening blues in the film above is titled “Sittin’ In The Sandtrap,” a reference perhaps to Mr. Brown’s golfing ability. The third film was a Zoot Sims Quartet Recorded at Donte’s. All, I think, were recorded at about the same time, early 1970. One other TV show with Hampton Hawes was by Sonny Criss, “Stars Of Jazz” in Nov.’57. The film above and the other in the series were titled “Jazz On Stage”

    —Roger Hunter (co-author with Mike Davis of the HH discography)

    P.S.: Our discography is sold out. There is a Hampton Hawes Discography online. But it has all of the mis-information that was printed on the sleeve of the CD release “Bird Song.” I hope this is of some help to your readers

  3. says

    Wow! That’s one trip through jazz history: Blues, Great American Songbook, and Modal Jazz (‘Free Style’ as I renamed it).

    This up-tempo rendition of ‘Milestones’ confirms what I read in Ashley Kahn’s excellent Kind Of Blue: The Making Of The Miles Davis Masterpiece: (memory minutes) Musicians who know their standard changes have absolutely no problem to improvise credibly on compositions consisting of one, two or three chords only. – Their rich repertoire of melodies (!), not just of patterns, licks & scales, enables them to play melodious solos on sketch-like tunes like ‘Milestones’, ‘So What’, or ‘Afro Blue’.

    It’s amazing how modern and up to date Bob Cooper sounds here, since he is mostly remembered for his activities in the only seemingly shallow waters of “west coast jazz”.

    Not to forget the three other greats: Ray, Hamp & Shelly. A fabulous set, played by a wonderful band!

  4. David says

    This is also available on a Rhapsody DVD but with no improvement in a/v quality. Note how the band abruptly changes key when Coop enters on the opening blues. Staying in Ray’s key would have put Bob in F#, an uncomfortable key for tenor players.

    • David says

      That ’68 “Sonora,” the one in 6/8, is from “Spanish Steps,” one of my favorite Hamp albums. This album has been reissued on cd as “Blues for Bud” with three additional tunes and two alternate takes.