Jazz SoundsOfSoul.netOne great jazz musician was Lionel Hampton. Lionel was a bandleader, actor, jazz vibraphonist and percussionist. He has worked with other famous jazz musicians such as Buddy Rich, Quincy Jones and Charlie Parker. Lionel was raised by his grandmother in the south before he relocated to Chicago. In the 1920's he started playing the xylophone and drums. His first instrument was the fife drum.

When he was a teenager he played drums for the Chicago Defender Newsboy's band. When he lived in California, he played for the Dixieland Blue-Blowers. The first band that he recorded with was The Quality Serenaders, then he left again to go play with another band, Les Hite band. It was here that he began studying the vibraphone. Louis Armstrong asked Lionel to play the vibraphones on two songs. That is when he made the vibraphone a popular instrument.

While still with the Les Hite band, Lionel went to the University of Southern California taking music. He also worked with the Nat Shilkrer orchestra. In 1936 he was in the film Pennies From Heaven, starring Bing Crosby. He was next to Louis Armstrong, but hid himself by wearing a mask when he was playing the drums.


In 1936 he was fortunate to meet Benny Goodman who came to watch him perform. Benny asked him to join his trio which consisted of Benny, Gene Krupa and Teddy Wilson. It was then renamed the Benny Goodman Quartet. The year before, Lionel worked with Billie Holiday with Benny's orchestra. This group of artists was one of the first integrated jazz groups that performed openly in society.

Lionel recorded with several groups while still with Benny Goodman, but in 1940 he left to create his own big band. Lionel's orchestra was a hit in the 40's and 50's. "Flying Home" featured a Illinois Jacquet solo that began a new style of music, R&B. The song was so popular that he did another version called "Flying Home, Number Two", with Arnett Cobb. Lionel's music was a mixture of jazz music and R&B during this time. Some great jazz musicians that worked with him during this time were Johnny Griffin, Dinah Washington, Charles Mingus and Dizzy Gillespie.

As time went on, in the 1960's and after, his success lessened. He was still performing hits from the 1930's-1950's. In the 1970's he recorded with the Who's Who Record label, but still did not do as well as he could have.

Going the college route seemed to help a bit. His band played at University of Idaho's jazz concert regularly. In 1985, the named it the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. Two years later, they named the music school the Lionel Hampton School of Music. It was the only music school at a university that was named after a jazz musician. Lionel kept playing until he had a stroke in 1991 in Paris. Even though he had to stop performing as much, he did a performance at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in 2001, not long before he died. This jazz music legend will never be forgotten.

 

In the turn of the century around 1920, many artists made their mark by playing in the discreet underground nightclubs known as "Speakeasies" which are high class , "Blind pig" lower class or "Smokeasy" for smokers. The United States once prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages and smoking tobacco in clubs as a constitutional amendment. One could usually find an underground nightclub by the doors without a sign to indicate that there was such as establishment inside. Those dives also had a secret door that lead out to a passageway or alley in case the police came to investigate. The police had the power to arrest everyone in the place due to the fact that they were broke the law by being there.

However, thing were beginning to look up for Jazz Music once the invention of the record player or phonograph was made to play jazz albums. In addition, radio stations helped promote Jazz music, and made it popular among the public. Jazz Music became a music of class that earned the era a nick name known as the "Jazz age". The band leaders who became famous as Jazz musicians were Paul Whiteman, Ted Lewis, Harry Reser, Leo Reisman, Abe Lyman, Nat Shilkret, Earl Burnett, Ben Bernie, George Olson, Bob Haring, Vincent Lopez, Ben Salvin and many more. Paul Whiteman claimed to be the king of Jazz music due to his popularity. He earned the title when he hired some white Jazz musicians with Bix Beiderbecke included to combine jazz with larger orchestrations.

In fact George Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue' was commissioned by Whiteman as his debut for the orchestra.

Ten years after Jazz music became popular it was reinvented into a style that would be suitable for radio and dancing. This style was known as "Swing" which allowed musicians to improvise their own interpretation of the melody or theme that was sometimes difficult to do. In the Swing era Jazz bands grew into a larger size which was often referred to as "Big Band" music that would always feature a soloist.

The band leaders and music arrangers for Jazz music who became famous for this style of music was Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Earl Hines, Fletcher Henderson, Walter Page, Benny Goodman, Don Redman, Chick Webb, Jimmie Lunceford, and Jay McShann. During this time there were racial issues of segregation between black and white people, but it slowly died down enough for the white band leaders to find black musicians to perform with them. In the middle of the 1930's Benny Goodman invited Teddy Wilson(pianist), Lionel Hampton (vibraphonist), and Charlie Christian (guitarist) to be a part of a group. Each musician learned from the style of other musicians in order to form their own. For example, Cab Calloway, Dizzy Gillespie(trumpeter), Bing Crosby (vocalist) were influenced by the improvising of Louis Armstrong. Later, the vocalists Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and Sarah Vaughn joined the scene with Jazz Improvisation known as the scat. To Scat is to vocally imitate musical instruments using such non verbal language as doot 'n doo bee yah bah loo bey doo ee ya boy lay bah doo doot 'n doo yah doo doy.

In the beginning of the 1940's Jazz music evolved yet again into a new style known as "Jump Music" which was upbeat music using blues chords performed by small music groups. These small music groups are the forms many bands make today. Later, another style of Jazz music came using the music of the 1930's as an inspiration called "Boogie-Woogie" where the usual 4 beat bar section expanded into an eight beat bar section in the rhythm which Big Joe Turner took the lead in the 1940's.

In the 1950's, music reinvented again when turner turned to "Rock and Roll music". As for the Swing era music it was reborn in the use of the modern dance trends. Kansas City made memorial for Charlie Parker in their American Jazz Museum that displays the history of the music and the people who made Jazz music what it has become.