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Lionel and Gladys Hampton celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary in Copenhagen on the night of November 11th, 1953. They were in Denmark on a concert tour with a star-studded Hampton band that included Clifford Brown, Gigi Gryce, Art Farmer, Quincy Jones, and  a singer named Annie Ross. The Hamptons and band were staying at the Richmond, which was not the classiest hotel in town, but a decent place that suited Gladys' budget—she was her husband's business manager and—as any sideman would tell you—quite frugal.

Gladys' penny pinching had the band traveling on a bus where others flew, but it did not prevent her from throwing an anniversary party at the hotel. Not an elaborate affair, just the band, tour crew, an ice sculpture and two local guests: Timme Rosenkrantz and yours truly. Timme, who had known Hamp for many years, kindly took me in tow, giving me my first rubbing shoulders experience with jazz greats. I was at that time involved in the running of the Storyville Club, so it occurred to me that some off the musicians might be persuaded to cap the night there. Well, not exactly there, but in a larger place that we could rent. Timme thought that was a splendid idea, so, when the party began to ebb, he helped me herd some of these star players into taxis. Hamp himself decided to make a brief appearance and when I mentioned that I had my tape recorder there, he said it was okay to record the "cats," but he wouldn't be performing.

Once there, surrounded by a youthful, enthusiastic crowd of Danes, he changed his mind and seated himself at the keyboard, next to pianist Jørgen Bengtson. Spotting my recorder on a table next to the piano, he told me to keep "that thing" off while he played. As I confessed to Hamp twenty years later, I did hit the record button, but I kept the lid on. In retrospect, Hamp was delighted to hear that I had ignored his request, and he asked for a copy of the tape. It was eventually destroyed by a fire in his apartment.

You can read more about the morning of November 12, 1953 and hear a couple of numbers from the jam session that took place if you go here. But first, you might want to listen to Hamp and the two-fingered mallet-styled piano performance that kicked off the night session. The other fingers belong to Jørgen Bengtson, who moved to Norway, where he lives in retirement. The sound quality leaves much to be desired, the opening bars are missing, and there is a short skip, but Anniversary Boogie—as I dubbed this piece for obvious reasons—is an engaging rapid-fire blues.


  1. I found your blog by doing a search for the book "Stomp Off-Let's Go/John Chilton" on Google. I've only just listened to your recording of Lionel Hampton from 1953 but look forward eagerly to digesting all of your archives, and of course, your current news.
    I just purchased for $9.99 the 6 lp set of Lionel Hampton on RCA. What a bargain!

  2. I found your blog by searching for "Stomp Off-Let's Go/John Chilton." I've listened to the Lionel Hampton track from 1953 which was splendid. I look forward to examining your blog in detail and know that I'll find some terrific music and information.

    Jim St. Amand, Asheville, North Carolina, USA

  3. I found your blog by while searching for "Stomp Off-Let's Go/John Chilton" on Google. So far, I've listened to the Lionel Hampton track from 1953 which was very fine. I look forward to digging into your blog in the days ahead.

    Jim St. Amand, Asheville, N.C., USA

  4. Thank you Jim. I hope you return and find many sounds and stories that make the trip worthwhile. $10 for the Hampton RCAs is indeed a bargain—it's great stuff and the lineup of "sidemen" is amazing.