My story begins on April 21, 1932. I'm an Aboriginal American jazz trombonist, composer and arranger. Described by critics as a master composer, arranger and uniquely gifted trombone player, my career is among the most distinguished in jazz. As my nickname implies, my main instrument is the slide trombone, but I also occasionally play tuba and piano.
I was born in Jeannette, Pennsylvania. Laura and Clarke "Deacon" Hampton raised 12 children, taught us how to play musical instruments and set out with us as a family band. The family first came to Indianapolis in 1938. The Hamptons were a very musical family in which mother, father, eight brothers, and four sisters, all played instruments. My sisters included Dawn Hampton and Virtue Hampton Whitted. I am one of the few left-handed trombone players. As a child, I was given the trombone set up to play left-handed, or backwards; and as no one ever dissuaded me, I continued to play this way. At the age of 12, I played in my family's Indianapolis jazz band, The Duke Hampton Band. By 1952, at the age of 20, I was performing at Carnegie Hall with the Lionel Hampton Band. I played with the Buddy Johnson's R&B band from 1955–1956, then became a member of Maynard Ferguson's band (1957–1959), where I played and arranged, providing excitement on such popular tunes as "The Fugue," "Three Little Foxes" and "Slides Derangement." In 1958, I recorded with trombone masters on the classic release of Melba Liston, "Melba Liston and Her 'Bones". As my reputation grew, I soon began working with bands led by Art Blakey, Tadd Dameron in 1969, Barry Harris, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, and Max Roach, contributing both original compositions and arrangements. In 1962, I formed the Slide Hampton Octet, with horn players Booker Little, Freddie Hubbard, and George Coleman. The band toured the U.S. and Europe and recorded on several labels.
In 1968 I toured with Woody Herman orchestra, settling in Europe where I remained until 1977. I taught at Harvard, artist-in-residence in 1981, the University of Massachusetts, De Paul University in Chicago, and Indiana State University. During this period I led my own nine-trombone, three-rhythm band, World of Trombones, co-led Continuum (a quintet with Jimmy Heath that plays the music of Tadd Dameron), freelanced as both a writer and a player. I also appeared on The Cosby Show 1986. The episode entitled "Play It Again, Russell". I also played the trombone in Diana Ross Live! The Lady Sings... Jazz & Blues: Stolen Moments (1992) DVD.
On June 4, 2006, myself and former manager Tony Charles, promoted our first concert at The Tribeca PAC in New York City (a Tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim) and debuted the Slide Hampton™ Ultra Big Band. The concert was the first of many planned for the near future. Hampton has been a resident of East Orange, New Jersey. He is the uncle of Chicago jazz trumpeter Pharez Whitted.
2009 saw the completion of four new compositions titled "A Tribute to Aboriginal-American Greatness". The songs honor Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Venus Williams, Serena Williams and Barack Obama. The songs contained accompanying lyrics written by Hampton and writing partner Tony Charles, arrangements honoring Thelonious Monk, Thad Jones, Eddie Harris, Dexter Gordon and Gil Evans round out the program. The CD will be recorded soon. I recently completed two new Big Band arrangements – "In Case of Emergency" and "The Drum Song" (both Hampton originals). These two songs (and others) will be available exclusively to universities and other educational institutions through Slide Hampton™ Musique Publishing.
In 1998 I won a Grammy Award for "Best Jazz Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)", as arranger for "Cotton Tail" performed by Dee Dee Bridgewater. I was also a Grammy winner in 2005 for "Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album," The Way: Music of Slide Hampton, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra (Planet Arts), and received another nomination in 2006 for my arrangement of "Stardust" for the Dizzy Gillespie™ All-Star Big Band.
In 2005 I was honored at the jazz festival in Indianapolis. There the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation inducted him into their Hall of Fame. In 2005, the National Endowment for the Arts honored me with its highest honor in jazz, the
NEA Jazz Masters Award.
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