NEA Jazz Master Slide Hampton trombonist has passed away

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Composer, arranger and trombonist Locksley Wellington “Slide” Hampton had been an important part of the jazz scene since the mid-1950s.

One of 12 children born into a musical family, Slide Hampton was a rare left-handed trombone player. At 12 he was playing with his family’s jazz band and at 20 he was performing with the (unrelated) orchestra of vibraphonist Lionel Hampton.

Slide then becomes a major force as a player and arranger with the big band of trumpeter Maynard Ferguson.

In 1962, Hampton formed his own octet, with horn players Booker Little, Freddie Hubbard and George Coleman. The group has toured in the United States and Europe and recorded on several labels.

After traveling with conductor Woody Herman to Europe in 1968, Hampton moved to France, where he remained very active on the European jazz scene.

As his reputation grew, he began to write original compositions and arrange music for groups led by drummer Art Blakey, pianists Tadd Dameron and Barry Harris, the Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Orchestra and the drummer Max Roach.

Returning to the United States in 1977, Hampton worked with his ensemble World of Trombones (nine trombonists), played in a cooperative quintet called Continuum, and participated in several Dizzy Gillespie tribute projects. He has also taught at several universities, including Harvard and DePaul.

Hampton won Grammy Awards for his arrangements and one in 2005 for Best Jazz Major Ensemble Album. That same year, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Hampton its highest honor in jazz, the NEA Jazz Masters Award.


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