2008 Taichung Jazz Festival Headliners Series: Slide Hampton
By Douglas Habecker
Translated by Ann Lee
As one may deduce from his name, Slide Hampton's long, distinguished career as an outstanding jazz musician, composer and arranger has been dominated by one instrument--the trombone. Thanks to a record of musical achievements stretching beyond five decades, there is no one better than this two-time Grammy Award winner to be the first jazz trombonist ever headlining at the Taichung Jazz Festival.
Slide, who was actually born Locksley Wellington Hampton in 1932, had the good fortune to grow up in a very musical family, playing from the age of 12 in the family Duke Hampton Band, which included not only his parents but all seven brothers and four sisters. Of interesting note is the fact that the right-handed Slide is a very rare left-handed trombonist, trained as such by his father. The band recorded and performed widely in around its Indianopolis home base until 1952, when Hampton struck out on his own and was already playing venues like Carnegie Hall at the young age of 20.
In the years that followed, Hampton performed, recorded, collaborated and toured the world with a pantheon of jazz greats, including Dizzy Gillespie, Maynard Ferguson, Melba Liston, Art Blakey, Barry Harris, Tadd Dameron, Mel Lewis, Woody Herman and Jon Faddis. In 1962, he formed the Slide Hampton Octet, which was followed over the next three decades by his accomplished nine-trombone, three-rhythm band World of Trombones, the Continium quintet, which he co-led, and the Slide Hampton Quartet and Quintet. In 2006, he launched another exciting project, the Slide Hampton Big Band. Along the way, he has also passed his skills onto others, teaching at Harvard University, University of Massachusetts, De Paul University and Indiana State University.
Although Slide's music has long had its roots in traditional jazz forms, including various tributes to Dizzy Gillespie, he has also ventured into adventurous new areas, including his 2001 recording, "Slide Plays Jobim", with music inspired by legendary Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. His discography includes at least a dozen other releases, stretching from 1959 to his "Spirit of the Horn" 2003 release on the MCG Jazz label.
His 1998 Grammy Award for "Best Jazz Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)" as arranger for "Cotton Tail", performed by Dee Dee Bridgewater, was followed by another Grammy in 2005 for Best Instrument Arrangement. He received a further nominations in 2006 for an arrangement of the song "Stardust". In 2005, Hampton also received the National Endowment for the Arts' most prestigious jazz honor, the NEA Jazz Masters Award.
The 2008 Taichung Jazz Festival will take place from Saturday, Oct. 18 to Sunday, Oct. 26 at Taichung's Peoples' Park and along the adjacent JingGuo Boulevard Parkway. Slide Hampton will perform on Sunday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. on the main Peoples' Park festival stage. For more information, check www.jazzfestival.com.tw