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Slide Hampton (1932–2021), jazz trombonist

by Linnea Crowther

Slide Hampton was a Grammy Award-winning jazz trombonist and NEA Jazz Master.

Musical career

Born Locksley Wellington Hampton, he earned his nickname young after beginning to play trombone as a child. He learned on a left-handed trombone even though he was right-handed; he played the unusual instrument all his life. After playing in his family’s Duke HamptonBand, Hampton began playing with jazz greats early in his career, including stints with Maynard Ferguson, Art Blakey, and Max Roach. He also led his own band, the Slide Hampton Octet. Also known as a gifted arranger, Hampton won Grammy Awards for both arrangements and performance. He spent time working as a musical director for Motown Records, appeared on an episode of “The Cosby Show,” and taught at universities including Harvard and the University of Massachusetts. In 2005, Hampton was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment of the Arts, the highest honor in jazz.

Notable quote

“When you’re playing the trombone well, you’ve worked on it. You’ve developed a respect for that instrument. And it makes you develop a respect for music in general, because you don’t get music out of a trombone just by blowing air into it.” —from a 1994 interview with Bob Bernotas

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Tributes to Slide Hampton

Full obituary: WBGO

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