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Lionel Hampton

Lionel Hampton was the first jazz vibraphonist and was one of the jazz giants beginning in the mid-'30s. He has achieved the difficult feat of being musically open-minded (even recording "Giant Steps") without changing his basic swing style. Hamp started out as a drummer, playing with the Chicago Defender Newsboys' Band as a youth. His original idol was Jimmy Bertrand, a '20s drummer who occasionally played xylophone. Hampton played on the West Coast with such groups as Curtis Mosby's Blue Blowers, Reb Spikes, and Paul Howard's Quality Serenaders (with whom he made his recording debut in 1929) before joining Les Hite's band, which for a period accompanied Louis Armstrong. At a recording session in 1930, a vibraphone happened to be in the studio, and Armstrong asked Hampton (who had practiced on one previously) if he could play a little bit behind him and on "Memories of You" and "Shine"; Hamp became the first jazz improviser to record on vibes.

It would be another six years before he found fame. Lionel Hampton, after leaving Hite, had his own band in Los Angeles' Paradise Cafe, until one night in 1936 when Benny Goodman came into the club and discovered him. Soon, Hampton recorded with B.G., Teddy Wilson, and Gene Krupa as the Benny Goodman Quartet, and six weeks later he officially joined Goodman. An exciting soloist whose enthusiasm even caused B.G. to smile, Hampton became one of the stars of his organization, appearing in films with Goodman, at the famous 1938 Carnegie Hall concert, and nightly on the radio. In 1937, he started recording regularly as a leader for Victor with specially assembled all-star groups that formed a who's who of swing; all of these timeless performances (1937-1941) were reissued by Bluebird on a six-LP set, although in piecemeal fashion on CD.

Hampton stayed with Goodman until 1940, sometimes substituting on drums and taking vocals. In 1940, Lionel Hampton formed his first big band, and in 1942 had a huge hit with "Flying Home," featuring a classic Illinois Jacquet tenor spot (one of the first R&B solos). During the remainder of the decade, Hampton's extroverted orchestra was a big favorite, leaning toward R&B, showing the influence of bebop after 1944, and sometimes getting pretty exhibitionistic. Among his sidemen, in addition to Jacquet, were Arnett Cobb, Dinah Washington (who Hampton helped discover), Cat Anderson, Marshall Royal, Dexter Gordon, Milt Buckner, Earl Bostic, Snooky Young, Johnny Griffin, Joe Wilder, Benny Bailey, Charles Mingus, Fats Navarro, Al Gray, and even Wes Montgomery and Betty Carter. Hampton's popularity allowed him to continue leading big bands off and on into the mid-'90s, and the 1953 edition that visited Paris (with Clifford Brown, Art Farmer, Quincy Jones, Jimmy Cleveland, Gigi Gryce, George Wallington, and Annie Ross) would be difficult to top, although fights over money and the right of the sideman to record led to its breakup. Hampton appeared and recorded with many all-star groups in the 1950s including reunions with Benny Goodman, meetings with the Oscar Peterson Trio, Stan Getz, Buddy DeFranco, and as part of a trio with Art Tatum and Buddy Rich. He also was featured in The Benny Goodman Story (1956).

Since the 1950s, Lionel Hampton has mostly repeated past triumphs, always playing "Hamp's Boogie Woogie" (which features his very rapid two-finger piano playing), "Hey Ba-Ba-Re-Bop," and "Flying Home." However, his enthusiasm still causes excitement and he remains a household name. Hampton has recorded through the years for nearly every label, including two of his own (Glad Hamp and Who's Who). Despite strokes and the ravages of age, Lionel Hampton remained a vital force into the 1990s. In January 2001, a vibraphone he had played for 15 years was put into the National Museum of American History. On August 31, 2002, at age 94, Lionel Hampton suffered major heart failure and passed away. ~ Scott Yanow
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: There Will Never Be Another You

1. Just One Of Those Things

2. There Will Never Be Another You

3. Cookin' In The Kitchen (a.k.a. Jumpin' At The Mudhole)

4. Sweet Man Of Mine

5. Beulah's Boogie

6. Bill Bailey

7. It Might As Well Be Spring

8. Together

9. Red Top

10. Please Love Me

11. Someday

12. You Make My Heart Sing

13. You Make My Heart Sing (Remix)

x

Track List: The Chronological 1951-1953

1. Gabby's Gabbin'

2. Don't Flee The Scene Salty

3. Kingfish

4. Oh, Lady Be Good !

5. Oh Rock

6. Always

7. S'Wonderful

8. Air Mail Special

9. The Nearness Of You

10. Soft Winds

11. Stompin' At The Savoy

x

Track List: Hommage

1. Whoa Babe

2. On The Sunny Side Of The Street

3. Drum Stomp

4. Don't Be That Way

5. Shoe Shiner's Drag

6. Sweethearts On Parade

7. When Lights Are Low

8. Dinah

9. Central Avenue Breakdown

10. Jack The Bellboy

11. Flyin' Home

12. Million Dollar Smile

13. Tempo's Boogie

14. Beulah's Boogie

15. Air Mail Special

17. Hamp's Boogie Woogie No. 2

19. Turkey Hop

20. Moonglow

21. Easy To Love

22. How High The Moon

x

Track List: Flying Home

Disc 1

1. Flying Home

2. Memories Of You

3. Stompin' At The Savoy

4. Moonglow

5. Runnin' Wild

6. Jivin' The Vibes

7. Buzzin Around With The Bee

8. Stompology

9. On The Sunny Side Of The Street

10. Rhythm, Rhythm (I Got Rhythm)

11. China Stomp (Chinatown, My Chinatown)

12. I Know That You Know

13. Avalon

15. Drum Stomp (Crazy Rhythm)

16. After You've Gone

17. Ring Dem Bells

18. Don't Be That Way

20. I'm In The Mood For Swing

21. Shoe Shiner's Drag

22. Muskrat Ramble

23. Down Home Jump

24. It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing

Disc 2

1. Sweethearts On Parade

2. Shufflin' At The Hollywood

3. Wizzin' The Wiz

4. The Jumpin' Jive

5. Twelfth Street Rag

6. When Lights Are Low

7. One Sweet Letter From You

8. Hot Mallets

9. I Can't Get Started

10. Gin For Christmas

11. Dinah

12. Central Avenue Breakdown

13. Jack The Bellboy

14. Hamp's Boogie Woogie

15. Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop

16. Air Mail Special

17. Cobb's Idea

18. How High The Moon

19. Three Minutes On 52nd Street

20. Stardust (End)

21. Red Top

22. Mingus Fingers

23. Midnight Sun

24. Rag Mop

x

Track List: The Quintessence

Disc 1

1. Buzzin' Around With The Bee

2. Whoa Babe

3. Stompology

4. On The Sunny Side Of The Street

5. Drum Stomp (Crazy Rythm)

6. The Sun Will Shine Tonight

7. Ring Dem Bells

8. Muskrat Ramble

9. Down Home Jump

10. Shufflin' At The Hollywood

11. Wizzin' The Wizz

12. When Lights Are Low

13. One Sweet Letter From You

14. Hot Mallets

15. Early Session Hop

16. Haven't Named It Yet

17. Central Avenue Breakdown

18. Jack The Bellboy

Disc 2

1. Flying Home No. 1

2. In The Bag

3. Loose Wig

4. Chop-Chop

5. Flying Home No. 2

6. Hamp's Boogie Woogie No. 1

7. Million Dollar Smile

8. Overtime

9. Memories Of You

10. Dinah

11. Vibraphone Blues

12. Avalon

13. I Got Rhythm (live)

14. Dizzy Spells

15. I'm A Ding Dong Daddy

16. Stardust

17. Good Enough To Keep (Air Mail Special)

18. Flying On A V Disc (Flying Home)

x

Track List: 1944-45 Broadcasts

1. Overtime

2. (I Guess) I'm Just The Worrying Kind

3. Hamp's Boogie Woogie (live)

4. Body And Soul

5. Lady Be Good

6. I'm A Slick Chick

7. The Man I Love (live)

8. In The Bag

9. Is You Is, Or Is You Ain't

10. K Ration Hop (live)

11. Million Dollar Smile

12. Loose Wig

13. Begin The Beguine

14. Air Mail Special (live)

15. Rockin' In Rythm

16. Accentuate The Positive (live)

17. Flyin' Home Number Two

x

Track List: Ring Dem Vibes

1. Ring Dem Bells (live)

2. Seven Comes Eleven

3. On The Sunny Side Of The Street

4. Blue Lou

5. Psychedelic Sally

6. Vibraphone Blues

7. Hamp's Thing

x

Track List: Lionel Hampton Greatest Hits

1. The Munson Street Breakdown

2. I've Found A New Baby

3. I Can't Get Started

4. Flamenco Soul

5. Hot Club Of Madrid Serenade

6. Tenderly

7. Dinah

8. Tempo And Swing

9. Jack The Bellboy

10. Toledo Blade

11. Bop City Flamenco

12. Blue Because Of You

13. Jivin' With Jarvis

14. Central Avenue Breakdown

x

Track List: Hamp

Disc 1

1. Flying Home

2. Hamp's Boogie Woogie

3. Million Dollar Smile

4. Red Cross

5. Hamp's Blues

6. Evil Gal Blues

8. Stardust

9. Ribs And Hot Sauce

10. Blow Top Blues

11. Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop

13. Limehouse Blues

14. Tempo's Birthday

15. Jack The Fox Boogie

Disc 2

1. How High The Moon

2. Three Minutes On 52nd Street

3. Red Top

4. Mingus Fingers

5. Midnight Sun

6. Chicken Shack Boogie

7. Central Avenue Breakdown

8. Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee

9. Moonglow

11. Lavender Coffin

12. Rag Mop

13. I Wish I Knew

14. There Will Never Be Another You

15. Pink Champagne

16. Memories Of You

17. Time On My Hands

18. Easy To Love

19. Twentieth Century Boogie

21. How High The Moon

x

Track List: 1939-40

1. When Lights Are Low

2. One Sweet Letter From You

3. Hot Mallets

5. I'm On My Way From You

6. Haven't Named It Yet

7. The Heebie Jeebies Are Rockin' the Town

8. The Munson Street Breakdown

9. I've Found a New Baby

10. I Can't Get Started

11. Four Or Five Times

12. Gin For Christmas

13. Dinah

14. My Buddy

15. Singin' The Blues

16. Shades of Jade

17. Till Tom Special

18. Flying Home

20. Tempo And Swing

21. House Of Morgan

22. I'd Be Lost Without You

23. Central Avenue Breakdown

24. Jack The Bellboy

x

Track List: The Lionel Hampton Quintet

1. Flying Home

2. Je Ne Sais Pas

3. On The Sunny Side Of The Street

4. April In Paris

5. Don't Be That Way

6. These Foolish Things

7. The Way You Look Tonight

8. It's Only A Paper Moon

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Mmmmmm...GOO D !
Report as inappropriate
If Hamp played it you can bet it Swung ! So sad they have to leave before we really miss them.
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If it Aint got that swing!
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This song makes me wish I was one of those swing kids in the 30's
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ahp12272
Lionel Hampton always makes me think of relaxing, rainy Sunday afternoons & my dad listening to LH in the den... Great stuff...
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I was in 4th grade and heard Hamp. Solo on the south side of Chicago at St. Elizabeth's school. Didn't know who he was then, but what a great honor it is now to know I witnessed jazz history at 9 years old.
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Bkk
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rogerlynghol m
One of my fondest memories is listening to Lionel and group while sitting on the grass of the 12th fairway on a cool summers eve at the base of Mt. Hood.
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Jazz man....
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Don't forget he was the major influence of Yash and Stan Schmenge!
Report as inappropriate
I think the best way to hear the full range of Hamp's musical abilities is with a small group playing ballads. (Of course, that may be true of most musicians, in which case, it's a pretty banal comment. Forget I said it)
Report as inappropriate
invdad1
In my view Lionel Hampton was the greatest jazz rhythm and multi-talent e d musician of all time.
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I am sooooooo glad that Pandora keeps these guys alive, performing and availible. What a precious legacy of talent we have that this country doesn't even know or care about. For those of us that do, isn't it forever sweet? The longer you live the more you know that others don't. DMB
Report as inappropriate
Ah, here's a connection: Sylvia Bennett's big break came in the 1980s, when legendary vibraphonist and National Arts Award Winner, Lionel Hampton took Sylvia under his wing and made her the first female singer to record with him in thirty years. But I still don't think that's her singing in 1945.
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Umm the wrong bio is up. Who cares about Sylvia Bennet on a Lionel Hampton page?
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Norton Started out on Xylophone and didnt switch to vibes 'till later
Report as inappropriate
marti153
First jazz vibist? What about Red Norvo?
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lionel hampton wasn't born in italy. What's going on Pandora?
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daytonville
PANDORA: Please fix your bios.
Report as inappropriate
Under "cool" is his picture.
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chuck.skoog
kick butt
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saw him at a charity show on long island in the early 90*s.crowd was dead untill he came on and blew the place apart at 85
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chatmar1
Saw him one new year's eve in Paris at the Meridien hotel. I was dating my now wife then and we had quite the evening. A very special man and a very special memory.
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They are missing one thing from his Bio. The school of music at the University of Idaho has a building named after him. He hosted a jazz festival every year at the college up until he passed away. Unfortunatel y I never was able to afford tickets, but I loved watching the performances re-broadcast . Lionel brought tons of energy into his performances , even at 75 years old.
Report as inappropriate
For those of you who never saw him play Live, you missed a Helluva Show! I believe I saw him at least 3 times. The most memorable was at the Saratoga Perfoming Arts Center in the Early `80's as part of the Newport jazz Festival. I believe that he came back for at least 3 Encores!
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The ultimate jazz musician. HE PLAYED FROM THE HEART AND SOUL!!!!
Report as inappropriate
mlkwahowske
I saw Lionel play with Gene Harris in the mid-1980's at a winery near Boise, Idaho. What an amazing show. Lionel even went back on the drums and Gene's drummer came up to play vibes. Everyone was having a great time.
Report as inappropriate
Lionel was too cool, not to leave a comment. jam on

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