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Hampton Hawes

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Hampton Hawes
Hawes in Japan in 1953
Hawes in Japan in 1953
Background information
Birth nameHampton Barnett Hawes Jr.
Born(1928-11-13)November 13, 1928
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DiedMay 22, 1977(1977-05-22) (aged 48)
Los Angeles
GenresJazz, jazz fusion, soul jazz, jazz-funk
LabelsContemporary, Discovery, Fantasy

Hampton Barnett Hawes Jr. (November 13, 1928 – May 22, 1977)[1] was an American jazz pianist. He was the author of the memoir Raise Up Off Me,[2] which won the Deems-Taylor Award for music writing in 1975.

Early life[edit]

Hampton Hawes was born on November 13, 1928, in Los Angeles, California.[3] His father, Hampton Hawes Sr., was minister of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles.[1] His mother, the former Gertrude Holman, was Westminster's church pianist.[1] Hawes' first experience with the piano was as a toddler sitting on his mother's lap while she practiced. He was reportedly able to pick out fairly complex tunes by the age of three.[citation needed]

Later life and career[edit]

Hawes was self-taught;[4] by his teens he was playing with the leading jazz musicians on the West Coast, including Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Art Pepper, Shorty Rogers, and Teddy Edwards. His second professional job, at 18, was playing for eight months with the Howard McGhee Quintet at the Hi De Ho Club, in a group that included Charlie Parker.[1] By late 1947, Hawes' reputation was leading to studio recording work.[1] Early studio dates included work for George L. "Happy" Johnson, Teddy Edwards, Sonny Criss, and Shorty Rogers. From 1948 to 1952, he was recorded live on several occasions at Los Angeles-area jazz clubs including The Haig, The Lighthouse, and The Surf Club.[1] By December 1952, he had recorded eight songs under his own name for Prestige Records with a quartet featuring Larry Bunker on vibraphone.

After serving in the U.S. Army in Japan from 1952 to 1954, Hawes formed his own trio, with bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Chuck Thompson.[1] The three-record Trio sessions made by this group in 1955 on Contemporary Records were considered some of the finest records to come out of the West Coast at the time.[1] The next year, Hawes added guitarist Jim Hall for the All Night Sessions.[1] These were three records made during a non-stop overnight recording session.[5]

After a six-month national tour in 1956, Hawes won the "New Star of the Year" award in Down Beat magazine, and "Arrival of the Year" in Metronome. The following year, he recorded in New York City with Charles Mingus on the album Mingus Three (Jubilee, 1957).[1]

Struggling for many years with a heroin addiction, in 1958 Hawes became the target of a federal undercover operation in Los Angeles.[1] Investigators believed that he would inform on suppliers rather than risk ruining a successful music career. Hawes was arrested on heroin charges on his 30th birthday[5] and was sentenced to ten years imprisonment.[5] In the intervening weeks between his trial and sentencing, Hawes recorded an album of spirituals and gospel songs, The Sermon.

In 1961, while at a federal prison hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, Hawes was watching President Kennedy's inaugural speech on television, and became convinced that Kennedy would pardon him.[5] With help from inside and outside the prison, Hawes submitted an official request for a presidential pardon.[5] In August 1963, Kennedy granted Hawes Executive Clemency, the 42nd of only 43 such pardons given in the final year of Kennedy's presidency.[5]

After being released from prison, Hawes resumed playing and recording. During a ten-month tour of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, Hawes recorded nine albums, played sold out shows and concert halls in ten countries, and was covered widely in the press, including appearances on European television and radio.[citation needed]

Raise Up Off Me, Hawes' autobiography, written with Don Asher and published in 1974, shed light on his heroin addiction, the bebop movement, and his friendships with some of the leading jazz musicians of his time.[1] It won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for music writing in 1975. Critic Gary Giddins, who wrote the book's introduction, called Raise Up Off Me "a major contribution to the literature of jazz." The Penguin Guide to Jazz cites it as "one of the most moving memoirs ever written by a musician, and a classic of jazz writing."[citation needed]

Hampton Hawes died unexpectedly of a brain hemorrhage in 1977, at the age of 48.

Style and influence[edit]

Hawes' playing style developed in the early 1950s.[4] He included "figures used by Parker and [Bud] Powell (but he played with a cleaner articulation than Powell), some Oscar Peterson phrases, and later, some Bill Evans phrases[...], and an impressive locked-hands style in which the top notes always sang out clearly."[4] He also helped develop "the double-note blues figures and rhythmically compelling comping style that Horace Silver and others were to use in the mid-1950s."[4] His technique featured "great facility with rapid runs and a versatile control of touch."[4]

Hawes influenced a great number of prominent pianists,[citation needed] including André Previn, Peterson, Horace Silver, Claude Williamson, Pete Jolly, and Toshiko Akiyoshi. Hawes' own influences came from a number of sources, including the gospel music and spirituals he heard in his father's church as a child, and the boogie-woogie piano of Earl Hines. Hawes also learned much from pianists Powell and Nat King Cole, among others. By Hawes' own account,[citation needed] however, his principal source of influence was his friend Charlie Parker.


As leader/co-leader[edit]

Recording date Title Label Year released Personnel/Notes
1955-06 Hampton Hawes Trio Contemporary 1955 One track solo piano; most tracks trio, with Red Mitchell (bass), Chuck Thompson (drums)
This Is Hampton Hawes Contemporary 1956 Trio, with Red Mitchell (bass), Chuck Thompson (drums)
1956-01 Everybody Likes Hampton Hawes Contemporary 1956 Trio, with Red Mitchell (bass), Chuck Thompson (drums)
1956-11 All Night Session! Vol. 1 Contemporary 1958 Quartet, with Jim Hall (guitar), Red Mitchell (bass), Eldridge Freeman (drums)
1956-11 All Night Session! Vol. 2 Contemporary 1958 Quartet, with Jim Hall (guitar), Red Mitchell (bass), Eldridge Freeman (drums)
1956-11 All Night Session! Vol. 3 Contemporary 1958 Quartet, with Jim Hall (guitar), Red Mitchell (bass), Eldridge Freeman (drums)
Baritones and French Horns Prestige 1958 Septet, with Curtis Fuller (trombone), Sahib Shihab (alto sax), David Amram and Julius Watkins (French horn), Addison Farmer (bass), Jerry Segal (drums); originally issued with other recordings; reissued as Curtis Fuller and Hampton Hawes with French Horns by Status
1958-01 Four! Contemporary 1958 Quartet, with Barney Kessel (guitar), Red Mitchell (bass), Shelly Manne (drums)
Bird Song Contemporary 1999 Most tracks trio with Paul Chambers (bass), Larance Marable (drums); two tracks trio listing Scott LaFaro (bass), Frank Butler (drums)
1958-03 For Real! Contemporary 1961 Quartet, with Harold Land (tenor sax), Scott LaFaro (bass), Frank Butler (drums)
1958-11 The Sermon Contemporary 1987 Trio, with Leroy Vinnegar (bass), Stan Levey (drums)
1964-02 The Green Leaves of Summer Contemporary 1964 Trio, with Monk Montgomery (bass), Steve Ellington (drums)
1965-05 Here and Now Contemporary 1966 Trio, with Chuck Israels (bass), Donald Bailey (drums)
The Seance Contemporary 1969 Trio, with Red Mitchell (bass), Donald Bailey (drums)
I'm All Smiles Contemporary 1973 Trio, with Red Mitchell (bass), Donald Bailey (drums)
1967 Hamp's Piano SABA 1969 also released as Hampton Hawes in Europe (Prestige)
1968-01 Key for Two BYG Actuel 1973 with Martial Solal
1968-03 Spanish Steps Black Lion 1971 Trio, with Jimmy Woode (bass), Art Taylor (drums). also released as Blues for Bud
1968-05 The Challenge Victor 1968 Solo piano
1968? Jam Session Columbia 1968 with Isao Suzuki (bass), George Otsuka (drums), Shungo Sawada (gutar), Akira Miyazawa (ts), Hidehiko Matsumoto (ts)
1970? High in the Sky Vault 1970 Trio, with Leroy Vinnegar (bass), Donald Bailey (drums)
1971-09 This Guy's in Love with You Freedom 1974 Trio, with Henry Franklin (bass), Michael Carvin (drums); in concert; also released as Live at the Montmartre (Freedom)
1971-09 A Little Copenhagen Night Music Freedom 1977 Trio, with Henry Franklin (bass), Michael Carvin (drums); in concert
1972-06 Universe Prestige 1972 With Oscar Brashear (trumpet), Harold Land tenor sax), Arthur Adams (guitar), Chuck Rainey (electric bass), Ndugu (drums)
1973-01 Blues for Walls Prestige 1973 Two tracks quartet, with George Walker (guitar), Henry Franklin (bass, electric bass), Ndugu (drums); most tracks sextet, with Oscar Brashear (trumpet), Hadley Caliman (soprano sax, tenor sax) added
1973-06 Live at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago Volume One Enja 1981 Trio, with Cecil McBee (bass), Roy Haynes (drums); in concert
1973-06 Live at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago Volume Two Enja 1989 Trio, with Cecil McBee (bass), Roy Haynes (drums); in concert
1973-07 Playin' in the Yard Prestige 1973 Trio, with Bob Cranshaw (electric bass), Kenny Clarke (drums); in concert
1974-07 Northern Windows Prestige 1974 With Allen DeRienzo and Snooky Young (trumpet), George Bohanon (trombone), Bill Green, Jackie Kelso and Jay Migliori (saxes, flute), Carol Kaye (electric bass), Spider Webb (drums)
1975-06 Recorded Live at the Great American Music Hall Concord Jazz 1983 Duo, with Mario Suraci (bass)
As Long as There's Music Artists House 1978 Duo, with Charlie Haden (bass)
1976-06 Something Special Contemporary 1994 Quartet, with Denny Diaz (guitar), Leroy Vinnegar (bass), Al Williams (drums); in concert;
1976-08 Hampton Hawes at the Piano Contemporary 1978 Trio, with Ray Brown (bass), Shelly Manne (drums)
1977? Memory Lane Live JAS 1977 with Leroy Vinnegar (bass), Bobby Thompson (drums), Harry Edison (trumpet), Sonny Criss (as), Teddy Edwards (ts: B2), Joe Turner (vocals: A3,B1)


  • The Hampton Hawes Memorial Album (Xanadu, 1982) – rec. 1952–56
  • Trio and Quartet 1951-1956 Live and Studio Sessions (Fresh Sound, 2005)[2CD] – rec. 1951–56

As sideman[edit]


  • Raise Up Off Me: A Portrait of Hampton Hawes by Hampton Hawes, Don Asher, and Gary Giddins
  • Hampton Hawes: A Discography by Roger Hunter & Mike Davis. 127pp. Manana Publications, Manchester, England. 1986.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 192/3. ISBN 0-85112-580-8.
  2. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Hampton Hawes | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  3. ^ "California Birth Index, 1905-1995 [database on-line]". United States: The Generations Network. 2005. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
  4. ^ a b c d e Owens, Thomas (1996). Bebop. Oxford University Press. p. 152. ISBN 978-0-19-510651-0.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Gioia, Ted (16 August 2013). "The Jazz Pianist That John F. Kennedy Saved". Daily Beast. Retrieved 13 March 2018.

External links[edit]