Remembering Slide Hampton

April 21, 1932 – November 18, 2021


A tribute to the trombone-arranger

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Trombonist and arranger Slide Hampton passed away on Nov. 18, 2021 at the age of 89.

He was born as Locksley Wellington Hampton on Apr. 21, 1932 in Jeannette, Pennsylvania as one of 12 children.

Hampton was part of a very musical family in which all of his siblings and parents played instruments in their family band, the Duke Hampton Band.

He was taught to play left-handed and played that way throughout his career, starting with the family band when he was 12; eight of the Hamptons recorded two numbers in 1953.

Slide Hampton, who made his recording debut in 1952 with Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, worked with the unrelated Lionel Hampton, with Buddy Johnson’s orchestra during (1955-57), and recorded with fellow trombonist Curtis Fuller in 1958.

Nicknamed “Slide” early on for obvious reasons, he gained recognition playing trombone with and contributing compositions and arrangements for Maynard Ferguson’s big band during 1957-62.

He made many recordings during the next decade including with Nat Adderley, Randy Weston, Charles Mingus, and as a leader at the head of an all-star octet during 1959-62.

Throughout his career, Hampton enjoyed performing with other trombonists and he often led groups that put the focus on a large trombone section, sometimes as the only horns.

Always a bop-oriented soloist and arranger, Slide Hampton helped keep the legacy of bop alive even during its lean years.

He was with the Woody Herman Orchestra for part of 1968 and then spent the next nine years living and playing in Europe, playing and writing for many European orchestras.

After his return to the U.S., he continued as a freelancer, taught at universities, and led his 12 piece group World Of Trombones (which had nine trombones) and a quintet with Jimmy Heath called Continuum; he also worked with Dizzy Gillespie in the United Nation Band in 1989 and was an important part of the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars a decade later.

Hampton slowed down after 2010 due to declining health, making his only post-2011 recording on two songs in 2018 with the Charles Ruggiero/Frank Basile Octet in 2018

From 2017, an 85-year old Slide Hampton (who is the trombonist sitting down) is featured in a quartet with trombonist Peter Lin, organist Akiko Tsuruga, guitarist Charlie Sigler, and drummer Steve Williams playing Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma.”

-Scott Yanow


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