Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hampton Hawes Quartet – All Night Session

   Since the swing era, importance of piano was continued to grow. In the beginnings it was part of rhythmic section. Later in be-bop and hard bop harmonics was increasingly complicated and after discovering of modal scales piano has becoming more and more independent base for musical construction. This is why there were so many great pianists in modern jazz era and every played his own way. One of most influential was Los Angeles artist Hampton Hawes (1928-1977). One of modern piano explorers, he was in opposition to traditional jazz piano school of Errol Garner or Art Tatum, totally different of classical and smooth jazz piano by Dave Brubeck. He was somewhere between Oscar Peterson’s vitality and Lennie Tristano’s distanced calm. He was probably closest to modern harmonic and rhythmic tense of Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk. His improvisation has more alto saxophone as piano characteristics, what can be related to his playing with Charlie Parker, being one of his earliest artistic experiences.
   He was remarkably gifted and very unfortunate artist. His generation was exploring possibilities of modern jazz and freedom of drugs and alcohol but also suffered of consequences. Many died prematurely, some lost their direction. Hampton Hawes was among these severely experienced by the use of the drugs. When FBI arrested him for possession of heroin, he was at the top of his career. They hoped to force him to betray the names of dealers. When he refused, he was put on trial and sentenced for 10 years in prison. For artist in prime time of his career it was like the life sentence. But Hawes didn’t give up, looking for his chance and watching in TV president’s address, he believed this is his opportunity. John F. Kennedy gave him second chance, and Hawes was able to take advantage of president’s help.

Hampton Hawes – All Night Session (1958)

   He has back to touring with successes, playing electric piano and organ, experimenting with funk and fusion jazz. He also wrote autobiography where he explained the myth of drugs role in improvisation and creativity. He was again on top, playing creative music and widely recognized as master of jazz piano, but still most notable results were these he achieved before he was under arrest. One of his best recordings is the series of three numbered albums released in 1958 by Contemporary label under the same title All Night Session and featuring Hampton Hawes Quartet. As title says, all three were recorded during one night session in the night of November 12th and morning of November 13th, 1956 in Contemporary’s studio in Los Angeles. November 13th was Hampton Haves birthday. He was 28 years old. All session was played with the same lineup: Hampton Hawes, piano; Jim Hall, guitar; Red Mitchell, bass and Bruz Freeman, drums. The repertoire was list of 16 compositions mainly standards like Jordu, Groovin' High, April in Paris, Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me and Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea, with classic improvisations, sometimes with jamming interactions between musicians.

Hampton Hawes Quartet - Takin' Care
   In late 50’s Hampton Hawes was in the frontline of modern jazz pianists. Although he was Los Angeles born and living, his style was related more to East Coast nerve and syncopated phrases than to West Coast style. Decade after president’s pardon, he was widely recognized and very popular but his style was closer yet to mainstream. In his career Hawes was playing and recorded with many great musicians like Charles Mingus, West Coast trumpeter Shorty Rogers, saxophonists Wardell Gray (in Wardell Gray Sextet), Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, Sonny Criss, Art Pepper, guitarists Barney Kessell, Jim Hall. His most successive projects were Hampton Hawes Quartet with guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Buz Freeman and Hampton Hawes Trio with bassist Leroy Vinnegar and drummer Donald Bailey. There was also Hampton Hawes All-Stars featuring Harry Edison (tp), Sonny Criss (as), Teddy Edwards (ts), Bobby Thompson (g) and Leroy Vinnegar (b) – this project was presented in Jazz on Stage TV series and one album Memory Lane Live published by Jas Records.

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