Lionel ‘Hamp’ Hampton spiced up jazz with good vibes


Rick Mattingly’s biography of Hampton, written for the The Percussive Society Corridor of Fame, covers a lot of the fundamentals.

“Lionel Hampton impressed me to play the vibraphone,” mentioned Milt Jackson, the revolutionary vibraphonist of the Trendy Jazz Quartet. “He was the primary certainly one of be aware to play it, however extra essential, I preferred how dynamic he was. And the way in which he blended with teams and the way in which he performed in entrance of a band had been inspirational.” Though Lionel Hampton wasn’t the primary to play the vibraphone — that honor goes to Pink Norvo — “Hamp” is mostly credited because the one who introduced vibes to the general public’s consideration via a mix of musicianship and showmanship. “I at all times consider Hamp because the man who actually acquired us established,” mentioned vibist Gary Burton in a 1999 Percussive Notes interview.

Hampton was born on April 20, 1908 in Louisville, Kentucky. After his father was killed in World Battle I, Lionel and his mom moved to Birmingham, Alabama, the place Hampton first performed drums in a Holiness church. The Hamptons then moved north, and Lionel performed drums in a fife-and-drum band whereas attending Holy Rosary Academy in Kenosha, Wisconsin, which was a faculty for black and Native American youngsters. Later, in Chicago, Lionel performed drums within the Chicago Defender Newspaper Boys Band, which is the place he started enjoying xylophone and marimba. “I labored onerous studying concord and idea once I was rising up in Chicago within the Nineteen Twenties,” Hampton as soon as recalled in an interview.


Throughout a 1930 recording session with (Louis) Armstrong, Hampton first performed vibraphone. “There was a set of vibes within the nook,” Hampton recalled. “Louis mentioned, ‘Are you aware play it?’ I mentioned, ‘Yeah, I can play it.’ It had the identical keyboard because the xylophone, and I used to be conversant in that.” Lionel proceeded to play vibes behind Armstrong on the tune “Reminiscences of You.” Armstrong inspired Hampton to pursue vibes enjoying.

The Nationwide Endowment for the Arts made Hampton a Jazz Grasp in 1988. On the time, music historian Ted Gioia wrote:

Hampton made his recorded debut on an Armstrong model of “Reminiscences of You” in 1930. By 1934, Hampton had turn into chief of his personal band, acting at Sebastian’s Cotton Membership in Los Angeles. Benny Goodman noticed Hampton carry out at certainly one of his gigs and recruited him to reinforce his trio, with Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa, for a 1936 recording date. Hampton remained in Goodman’s band via 1940, often changing Krupa on the drums. Hampton grew to become well-known with the Goodman band, and began his personal large band, attaining his greatest recorded hit with “Flying Residence” in Could 1942, pushed by Illinois Jacquet’s unforgettable tenor saxophone solo.

Hampton’s well-liked large band boasted such potent musicians as Dexter Gordon, Clifford Brown, Fat Navarro, Johnny Griffin, Charles Mingus, Art Farmer, Clark Terry, Cat Anderson, Wes Montgomery, and singers Dinah Washington, Joe Williams, Betty Carter, and Aretha Franklin. He toured the globe and continued to nurture younger expertise, usually offering a few of the earliest band experiences to musicians who went on to turn into leaders in their very own proper. His band grew to become the longest established orchestra in jazz historical past.

Lionel Hampton obtained quite a few awards of advantage, together with a number of honorary doctoral levels, the Nationwide Medal of Arts, and the Kennedy Middle Honors. His diligent work with the jazz pageant on the College of Idaho in Moscow led to it being renamed the Lionel Hampton Worldwide Jazz Pageant in 1985. The college’s music division shortly adopted swimsuit and have become the Lionel Hampton Faculty of Music. Winner of quite a few polls, Hampton had been an honored soloist into the Nineties, performing in quite a few festivals as a part of all-star assemblages. In 2001, he donated his vibraphone to the Smithsonian Establishment.

Right here’s Hamp on the vibes with Armstrong, on the 1930 model of “Reminiscences of You,” which NPR describes as “the first known jazz recording to incorporate the vibraphone.

We regularly overlook the truth that jazz musicians helped integrate the silver screen.

African American musician Fletcher Henderson had been enjoying “Minnie the Moocher’s Marriage ceremony Day” in Harlem since 1933, however it wasn’t till 5 years later, in white musician Benny Goodman‘s arms, that the entire nation began listening to it.

Goodman grew to become a nationwide sensation, and he capitalized on stardom fearlessly. He made vibraphonist Lionel Hampton and pianist Teddy Wilson, each black musicians, a part of his quartet as a result of they had been distinctive. A decade earlier than Jackie Robinson would combine Main League baseball, Hampton and Wilson built-in American well-liked music.

Hamp was featured in A Song is Born in 1948.

A light-weight musical “romcom” (in at the moment’s parlance), the wacky Hollywood plot starred the favored Danny Kaye. He performed an earnest musical professor, writing a e-book on the historical past of music, who ventures out of his academy into the massive unhealthy world to find out about swing, jive, blues, boogie-woogie, Dixieland and pop. He encounters and invitations again some high practitioners of the day, who could be seen and heard within the movie – predominantly Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Barnet, Tommy Dorsey, Lionel Hampton and Mel Powell.

As soon as Hamp acquired publicity within the motion pictures, audiences didn’t have to purchase data or attend live shows to listen to his music.

The yr I used to be born, 1947, Hamp and Sonny Burke composed “Midnight Solar,” which has since turn into a jazz commonplace.

In 1954, songwriter and arranger Johnny Mercer added lyrics; he heard the tune performed on the radio whereas driving within the desert in California. 

My all-time favourite vocal model of Hamp’s tune was sung by Ella Fitzgerald.

Although the sound high quality will not be the most effective, this compilation—that includes clips of 10 songs—creates an actual really feel for the dynamics of his early large band.

All the time an innovator, Hampton was not afraid to step outdoors of the field. Examine him out with Charlie Mingus in 1947.

Hamp was additionally incessantly featured on tv. Right here he performs his hit, “Flying Residence,” on the weekly Patti Web page Huge Document present on CBS in 1957.

This clip from Hudson Music’s documentary, Lionel Hampton: King of the Vibes, illustrates his impression on jazz.

He was referred to as the King of the Vibes, The Vibes President, Boss of the Backbeat‚ the unique Mister Pleasure and the artist who set the stage for one thing that was referred to as rock and roll. 

The College of Idaho has a deep historical past with Hampton.

Lionel Hampton (got here) to the College of Idaho in 1984, making his first look on the Jazz Pageant. With that look, Lionel and Doc Skinner shaped a partnership and the creation of the Lionel Hampton Jazz Pageant. A partnership that included the dedication of the College of Idaho Lionel Hampton Faculty of Music in Lionel’s honor, (t)he first and solely college music college named in honor of a jazz musician.

The college additionally produced a brief documentary of the King of the Vibes, served up on YouTube in two components.

For a deeper dive into Hampton and his affect, 1989’s HAMP: An Autobiography, written by the person himself with James Haskins, is a pleasant learn.

It’s additionally not nearly Hampton. Removed from it.

Listed here are Lionel Hampton’s off-the-cuff recollections of contemporaries like Louis Armstrong, Gene Krupa, Buddy Wealthy, Teddy Wilson, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and Josephine Baker. And listed here are uncommon glimpses into the early careers of stars nurtured by him, comparable to Dinah Washington, Joe Williams,Quincy Jones, Dexter Gordon, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Gregory Hines.

Robert H. Rossberg reviewed the e-book for American Music (Vol. 11, Subject 3).

Lionel Hampton’s profession has blossomed and grown since he shaped his first large band in 1942 and continues to this present day with applicable modifications for the vicissitudes of age and time.  He’s an artist able to sensible performances on three devices, the vibraphone, definitely the earliest, he, together with Pink Norvo and Milt Jackson, ranks because the main jazz exponent of that instrument.  As well as, his bands supplied a house for scores of younger musicians, together with Teddy Buckner, Betty Carter, Dinah Washington, Arnett Cobb, Dexter Gordon, Quincy Jones, Charlie Mingus, and Joe Newman, who later went to attain their very own locations within the jazz enterprise.  All of this was completed in the course of the waning years of the massive band period.  With unprecedented longevity Hampton’s group maintained a profitable business presence via the years, partly on account of the forcefullness and skillful administration of his spouse, Gladys Riddle Hampton.

The autobiography “Hamp” by Lionel Hampton with James Haskins, recites with precision and element his saga of virtually half a century of riotous leisure and critical achievement.  It’s a cautious case research of the profession of Lionel Hampton, his triumphs and low instances, his associations with scores of musicians, his contacts with political figures from Harry Truman to George Bush (and stops alongside the way in which with Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon), and his visits to many international locations and conferences with world leaders together with the Pope.  Hamp additionally comprises private and musical insights about a few of the best musicians and musical teams within the historical past of jazz.Hampton’s feedback in regards to the well-known Benny Goodman Quartet (Goodman, Hampton, Teddy Wilson, and Gene Krupa) are notably gratifying. It’s a e-book for element, for complete recall, for studying in regards to the Swing Period and past, however above all for studying in regards to the irrepressible, optimistic, non secular, inventive Lionel Hampton.

In 1992, Hampton obtained Kennedy Middle Honors. Herbie Hancock informed the viewers Hamp’s story.

As Hamp regarded on, an all-star lineup (and a few up-and-comers from Howard College) paid tribute to the King of the Vibes. Have a look at the enjoyment on their faces as they play.

Hamp’s vibraphone was donated to the Smithsonian in 2001.

A yr earlier than Hampton’s demise, Rep. John Conyers saluted him on the floor of the House.

Monday, September 24, 2001

Mr. Speaker, because the Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, and chairman of its annual Jazz Subject Discussion board and Live performance, I rise to name to this physique’s consideration the achievements of a distinguished American, Mr. Lionel Hampton. On the age of 92, he continues a profession that has introduced him worldwide acclaim as a musician, composer, and bandleader. I’m extraordinarily honored that he can be my visitor right here in Washington, DC, on Thursday, September 27, 2001, in the course of the Congressional Black Caucus Basis’s Annual Legislative Convention. That night, my colleagues and I’ll have the chance to thank him for the nice pleasure that his life’s work has dropped at us, and to thousands and thousands throughout this nation and all over the world. The Congressional Black Caucus will not be alone this yr in recognizing the magnificence of what Lionel Hampton has completed. On January 31, 2001, the Smithsonian Establishment’s Nationwide Museum of American Historical past added “Hamp’s” vibraphone to its assortment of “nationwide treasures.” As well as, on February 22, 2001, the College of Idaho devoted the Lionel Hampton Middle for the Examine and Efficiency of Jazz. The College, nevertheless, didn’t simply uncover and acknowledge Lionel Hampton’s genius, it did so a few years in the past by launching the Lionel Hampton Jazz Pageant in 1984, It reaffirmed its reverence of Hampton in 1987 by establishing the Lionel Hampton Faculty of Music; the first music college named in honor of a jazz musician.

Hampton died on Aug. 31, 2002. His funeral was held at Riverside Church in New York Metropolis, and he was “sent home” in New Orleans style. 

The stays of jazz nice Lionel Hampton had been carried in a white horse-drawn hearse via the streets of Harlem on Saturday, with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis blowing a dirge to guide the funeral procession.

The 94-year-old showman and bandleader died Aug. 31 of coronary heart failure. Hampton suffered two strokes in 1995 and had been in failing well being lately.

Ranging from the Cotton Membership, as soon as an icon of nice music, lots of of mourners walked in a procession to a service on the close by Riverside Church.

Be part of me within the feedback to listen to extra Hamp and extra stars of the vibe, together with Milt Jackson, Cal Tjader, Tito Puente, Bobby Hutcherson, and Stefon Harris.  

In spite of everything, we might all use some good vibes as of late.