Lionel Hampton's Never-Released CD/DVD Set
Out Of Sight Music presents ' There Will Never Be Another You', an historical, never-released CD/DVD set by Lionel Hampton featuring Sylvia Bennett. Lionel Hampton was one of the great masters of American music, a true national treasure, reinventing the vibraphone and combining dazzling musicality with good old-fashioned showmanship. Today a household name, Lionel Hampton has been honored in multiple ways, with schools, festivals, streets and nightclubs bearing his name, honorary university degrees, and a National Medal of the Arts granted him by President Clinton.
Oddly enough, although Lionel Hampton released hundreds of recordings, he didn't make too many studio albums. He liked the people too much, the interchange and the ease of capturing the moment. And so many of his albums were recorded live, at festivals and nightclubs. He also didn't record with singers very often, preferring to let the melodies he improvised on the vibes "do the talking".
But in 1989. Lionel Hampton broke his pattern and went into the studio to record a masterpiece entitled Sentimental Journey with vocalist Sylvia Bennett, his first recording with a vocalist in thirty years. Introduced through a mutual friend, Sylvia first sang with Lionel and his orchestra at a show at the Konover Hotel in Miami Beach, continuing on with him for an entire Florida tour. As it happened, Lionel and Sylvia turned out to be one of those magical partnerships that sometimes occur in music. Lionel felt that Sylvia's voice and approach perfectly complemented his music and a great friendship developed. The idea for their first collaboration, Sentimental Journey, came to them while performing at the second Ronald Reagan presidential inauguration. The album was picked up by Atlantic Records, went on to receive a Grammy Nomination and is considered to be one of Lionel's greatest recordings.
In 1989, while performing at George H.W. Bush's presidential inauguration, Lionel and Sylvia, inspired by the spirit of new beginnings, discussed a second collaboration. This time, Lionel wanted to do something more contemporary and modern, with a more pop approach. Instead of using his usual orchestra, Lionel and Sylvia hired the multi-talented Hal Batt, a brilliant young producer with whom Sylvia had recorded dance records. Hal was to do the arrangements, recording and much of the instrumentation. Hal, Sylvia and Lionel got together in New York City for pre-production meetings, deciding on twelve selections, their tempos and keys. Hal then went back to Florida, wrote the arrangements and recorded the basics at his home studio, a then-state-of-the-art facility with an MCI console and 24-track recorder, continuing on at the legendary Criteria Recording Studios, using South Florida's top recording musicians.
Soon afterwards Lionel joined Sylvia and Hal in Florida for several never-to-be-forgotten days of vibes and vocal overdubs. Lionel was especially happy, mostly from the relaxed work environment without the ticking of the studio clock and partly because his vibes were placed in the kitchen, just like they were in his own house. Fortunately, many of these happy musical moments were captured on film and video and appear in a special DVD documentary as a companion to the CD album of There Will Never Be Another You. Lionel's performances on these tracks are focused, fun-filled, and vibrant, so to speak, and Sylvia's vocals are perfectly matched with the band. These performances and the filming of them are some of the best examples of Lionel Hampton's work before his health began to decline in 1998. Upon completion of Hal Batt's mix, the album was expected to be released by Atlantic shortly thereafter, as a follow-up to Sentimental Journey.
Tragically, this was not to be. Instead of the expected release on Atlantic, disputes and barriers, so typical of the music business, entered the environment. Rather than dilute their original vision, Sylvia Bennett and Hal Batt shelved the project and, sadly, this wonderful recording joined the ranks of great unreleased masters.
For thirteen years these master tapes languished, unheard by the public. Sylvia and Lionel continued their friendship but Lionel's health began to fail. When Lionel passed away in 2002 Hal and Sylvia both felt strongly that this recording should not be lost. Many of the original obstacles preventing the release had dissolved by that time and the way was clear to bring out this long-lost treasure with its original sound and concept.
However, another unexpected problem arose: the original two-inch analog masters had been affected by time and weather. They all had to be "baked" and reanalyzed. Hal Batt took each and every track and converted it to ProTools files, rerecording when necessary and treating with various methods when not possible. Thankfully, Lionel's tracks suffered little, except for a certain thinness and brightness that Hal Batt was able to treat with equalization. Many of Sylvia's vocals retained the analog warmth so appropriate to her vocal quality, while others were rerecorded and matched up with the older performances. By then, Hal Batt had achieved well-deserved success and recognition for his work with Julio Iglesias and other artists. He had moved his studio out of his house and had created Afterhours Music, one of South Florida's best recording rooms. Certain parts of the drums, percussion, bass and piano were redone at Afterhours with great players such as percussionist Sammy Figueroa and drummer Goetz Kujack. Then Hal Batt polished up the project with a sparkling new mix. The result is a fantastic big band pop album that contains both the warmth of analog and the precision and cleanness of the latest digital technology.
With the full support and cooperation of the Lionel Hampton estate, There Will Never Be Another You was released in March 2006 on Out Of Sight Music, Sylvia Bennett's own independent label.
From the beginning, this set has received unanimous accolades, for its historical significance, for its outstanding sound and great arrangements, and most of all for the wonderful quality of Lionel Hampton's performance and Sylvia Bennett's swinging vocals. Sylvia Bennett and her team at Out Of Sight Music are very proud and gratified to present this CD/DVD set -- which not only embodies great music, but also includes wonderful historical footage -- as a stellar homage to one of America's greatest musical geniuses.
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