18 Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton is a frenetic jazz vibraphonist, gifted bandleader and storied showman who was one of the most celebrated musicians of the swing era and went on to a six-decade career on the American stage.
Hampton has cut hundreds of records. He was known for tremendous energy and for directing bands that were among the most long lived and consistently popular large ensembles in jazz. His work has been hailed by everyone from presidents to jazz critics and endorsed by the public through enthusiastic attendance of his performances and unending sales of his records.
Hampton was born on April 20，1908，in Louisville, Kentucky. He began working as a drummer when he was a teenager. He spent many of his formative musical years in Los Angeles, playing with top local bands and some great national figures as they came through town. Among them were Louis Armstrong -- who first encouraged him to play the vibraphone and, later, Benny Goodman. He was one of the first musicians to bridge the racial gap between blacks and whites in jazz. He joined drummer Gene Krupa and pianist Teddy Wilson to form the multiracial Benny Goodman quartet in the 1930s. Hampton later recalled, “I didn’t recognize that it was a social advancement, but it was the first time blacks and whites ever played together out in public.”
By 1930, he was touring extensively on the West Coast with his own groups, making records and enjoying billing as the “fastest drummer in the world”，when he struck his first note on a vibraphone. He played with Armstrong’s group for a year, establishing the vibraphone as a jazz instrument and himself as its top interpreter.
Hampton played the vibes with lightning swiftness and harmonic and melodic simplicity and the drums with a fierce, driving rhythm. He became a household name after recording such hits as Moonglow and Dinah with Goodman in the 1930s and continued to make the charts in the 1940s and 1950s.
In 1940，he left Goodman and started his own big band, featuring a big sound, swinging arrangements and such soloists as Washington. Hampton’s newly recorded big-band version of Flyin ’Home became a huge success. The band specialized in boogie-woogie, jump and later bop, and by the early 1950s it had become as much a rhythm and blues as a jazz attraction. But it nevertheless remained the medium for the introduction of many jazz talents.
Through all of it, Hampton once said, he had just one goal, “I want to be remembered for spreading happiness and goodwill.” He did just that.