|Birth name||Hampton Barnett Hawes, Jr.|
November 13, 1928|
Los Angeles, California, United States
|Died||May 22, 1977
Los Angeles, California, United States
|Labels||Contemporary Records, Discovery, Fantasy Records|
|Associated acts||Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Jim Hall, Barney Kessell, Charles Mingus, Art Pepper, Shorty Rogers|
Hampton Barnett Hawes, Jr. (November 13, 1928 – May 22, 1977) was an American bebop and hard-bop jazz pianist, recognized as one of the finest and most influential of the 1950s. He was also the author of what is now a classic jazz memoir, Raise Up Off Me, which won the Deems-Taylor Award for music writing in 1975.
Hampton Hawes was born on November 13, 1928, in Los Angeles, California. His father, Hampton Hawes, Sr., was minister of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles. His mother, the former Gertrude Holman, was Westminster's church pianist. 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.
Later life and career
Entirely self-taught, Hawes by his teens 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 19, was playing for eight months with the Howard McGhee Quintet at the Hi De Ho Club, in a group that included Charlie Parker.
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. 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. The next year, Hawes added guitarist Jim Hall for the All Night Sessions – three records made during a non-stop recording session at the Contemporary Studios in Los Angeles.
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 JLP 1054, 1957).
Struggling for many years with heroin addiction, in 1958 Hawes became the target of a federal undercover operation in Los Angeles. They believed that he would inform on suppliers in L.A. rather than risk a successful music career. Hawes was arrested on heroin charges on his 30th birthday, but refused to cooperate, and was sentenced to ten years in a federal prison hospital, which was twice the mandatory minimum. In the intervening weeks between his trial and sentencing, Hawes recorded an album of spirituals and gospel songs, The Sermon, for Contemporary Records.
In 1961, after serving three years at Fort Worth Federal Medical Facility in Texas, Hawes was watching President Kennedy's inaugural speech on television, when he became convinced that Kennedy would pardon him. In an almost miraculous turn, President Kennedy granted Hawes Executive Clemency in 1963, the 42nd of only 43 such pardons given in the final year of Kennedy's presidency.
After being released from prison, Hawes resumed playing and recording. During a world tour in 1967-68, he was startled to discover that he had become a legend among jazz listeners overseas. 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.
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. It was the first book about the bebop era written by a musician, and 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."
In the 1970s, Hawes experimented with electronic music (Fender-Rhodes made a special instrument for him), although eventually he returned to playing the acoustic piano.
Hampton Hawes died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage in 1977, at 48 years old. He is buried next to his father, Hampton Hawes, Sr. - who had died just five months before - at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery. In 2004, the City Council of Los Angeles passed a resolution declaring November 13 "Hampton Hawes Day" throughout the city in perpetuity.
Style and influence
As a pianist, Hawes' style is instantly recognizable – for its almost unparalleled swing, unique approach to time and harmony, and depth of emotional expression, particularly in the blues context. Hawes influenced a great number of prominent pianists, including André Previn, Oscar 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 Bud Powell and Nat King Cole, among others. By Hawes' own account, however, his principal source of influence was his friend Charlie Parker.
- Hampton Hawes Early Years Trio and Quartet Sessions 1951-56 (Fresh Sounds Records CD 369)
- The Hampton Hawes Memorial Album (Xanadu 161) 1952–1956
- Hampton Hawes Trio (Contemporary, 1955)
- This Is Hampton Hawes (Contemporary, 1956)
- Everybody Likes Hampton Hawes (Contemporary, 1956)
- All Night Session! Vol. 1 (Contemporary, 1956 )
- All Night Session! Vol. 2 (Contemporary, 1956 )
- All Night Session! Vol. 3 (Contemporary, 1956 )
- Curtis Fuller and Hampton Hawes with French Horns (Status, 1957) with Curtis Fuller
- Four! (Contemporary, 1958)
- Bird Song (Contemporary, 1956-58 )
- For Real! (Contemporary, 1958 )
- The Sermon (Contemporary, 1958 )
- The Green Leaves of Summer (Contemporary, 1965)
- Here and Now (Contemporary, 1966)
- The Seance (Contemporary, 1966 )
- I'm All Smiles (Contemporary, 1966 )
- Hamp's Piano (SABA, 1967) - also released as Hampton Hawes in Europe (Prestige)
- Key for Two (BYG, 1968 ) with Martial Solal
- Blues for Bud (Black Lion, 1968 )
- Spanish Steps (Black Lion, 1968 )
- The Challenge (Victor, 1968)
- Jam Session (Columbia, 1968)
- This Guy's in Love with You (Freedom, 1971 ) - also released as Live at the Montmartre (Freedom)
- A Little Copenhagen Night Music (Freedom, 1971 )
- Universe (Prestige, 1972)
- Blues for Walls (Prestige, 1973)
- Live at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago Volume One (Enja, 1973 ) with Cecil McBee and Roy Haynes
- Live at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago Volume Two (Enja, 1973 ) with Cecil McBee and Roy Haynes
- Playin' in the Yard (Prestige, 1973)
- Northern Windows (Prestige, 1974)
- Recorded Live at the Great American Music Hall (Concord Jazz, 1975 )
- As Long as There's Music (Artists House, 1976 ) with Charlie Haden
- Something Special (Contemporary, 1976 )
- Hampton Hawes at the Piano (Contemporary, 1976 )
- Art Pepper - The Early Show (1952; Xanadu Records)
- Bud Shank - Bud Shank - Shorty Rogers - Bill Perkins (Pacific Jazz, 1955)
- Red Mitchell - Red Mitchell (Bethlehem), 1955
- Barney Kessel - Kessel Plays Standards (Contemporary, 1955)
- Charles Mingus - Mingus Three (Jubilee JLP 1054), 1957
- Prestige All Stars - Baritones and French Horns (Prestige PRLP 16-6) 1957
- Barney Kessel - Let's Cook! (Contemporary, 1957 )
- Sonny Rollins - Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders (Contemporary C 3564, S 7564; Fantasy OJC 340, OJCCD 340-2; 1958)
- Sonny Criss - I'll Catch the Sun! (Prestige), 1969
- Sonny Stitt - So Doggone Good (Prestige), 1972
- Gene Ammons - Gene Ammons and Friends at Montreux (Prestige, 1973)
- Blue Mitchell - Stratosonic Nuances (RCA, 1975)
- Art Pepper - Living Legend (Contemporary S 7633), 1975 (released 1976)
- Art Farmer - On the Road (Contemporary S 7636), 1976
- Raise Up Off Me: A Portrait of Hampton Hawes by Hampton Hawes, Don Asher and Gary Giddins
- 128-page Hampton Hawes biography/discography was published in England in 1987, co-authored by Roger Hunter and Mike Davis.
- "California Birth Index, 1905-1995 [database on-line]". United States: The Generations Network. 2005. Retrieved 2009-10-06.