Hampton Hawes

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.

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

Early lifeEdit

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 careerEdit

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 an almost miraculous turn, 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.

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 was the first book about the bebop era written by a musician[citation needed], and won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for music writing in 1975.[citation needed] 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.[1]

Hampton Hawes died unexpectedly of a brain hemorrhage in 1977, at the age of 48. He was buried next to his father, Hampton Hawes, Sr., who had died five months earlier, at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Los Angeles.[6]

Style and influenceEdit

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-leaderEdit

Year recorded Title Label Personnel/Notes
1952–56 The Hampton Hawes Memorial Album Xanadu Trio; some tracks with Joe Mondragon (bass), Larry Bunker (drums); some with Mondragon (bass), Shelly Manne (drums); some with Red Mitchell (bass), Chuck Thompson (drums)
1955 Hampton Hawes Trio Contemporary One track solo piano; most tracks trio, with Red Mitchell (bass), Chuck Thompson (drums)
1951–56 Hampton Hawes Early Years Trio and Quartet Sessions 1951–56 Fresh Sound
1955–56 This Is Hampton Hawes Contemporary Trio, with Red Mitchell (bass), Chuck Thompson (drums)
1956 Everybody Likes Hampton Hawes Contemporary Trio, with Red Mitchell (bass), Chuck Thompson (drums)
1956 All Night Session! Vol. 1 Contemporary Quartet, with Jim Hall (guitar), Red Mitchell (bass), Eldridge Freeman (drums)
1956 All Night Session! Vol. 2 Contemporary Quartet, with Jim Hall (guitar), Red Mitchell (bass), Eldridge Freeman (drums)
1956 All Night Session! Vol. 3 Contemporary Quartet, with Jim Hall (guitar), Red Mitchell (bass), Eldridge Freeman (drums)
1957 Baritones and French Horns Prestige 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
1956–58 Bird Song Contemporary Most tracks trio with Paul Chambers (bass), Larance Marable (drums); two tracks trio with Scott LaFaro (bass), Frank Butler (drums); released 1999
1958 Four! Contemporary Quartet, with Barney Kessel (guitar), Red Mitchell (bass), Shelly Manne (drums)
1958 For Real! Contemporary Quartet, with Harold Land (tenor sax), Scott LaFaro (bass), Frank Butler (drums)
1958 The Sermon Contemporary Trio, with Leroy Vinnegar (bass), Stan Levey (drums); released 1987
1964 The Green Leaves of Summer Contemporary Trio, with Monk Montgomery (bass), Steve Ellington (drums)
1965 Here and Now Contemporary Trio, with Chuck Israels (bass), Donald Bailey (drums)
1966 The Seance Contemporary Trio, with Red Mitchell (bass), Donald Bailey (drums)
1966 I'm All Smiles Contemporary Trio, with Red Mitchell (bass), Donald Bailey (drums); released 1973
1967? Hamp's Piano SABA also released as Hampton Hawes in Europe (Prestige)
1968? Key for Two BYG Actuel released 1979?, with Martial Solal
1968 Blues for Bud Black Lion Trio, with Jimmy Woode (bass), Art Taylor (drums)
1968 Spanish Steps Black Lion Trio, with Jimmy Woode (bass), Art Taylor (drums)
1968 The Challenge Victor Solo piano
1968? Jam Session Columbia
1970 High in the Sky Vault Trio, with Leroy Vinnegar (bass), Donald Bailey (drums)
1971? This Guy's in Love with You Freedom also released as Live at the Montmartre (Freedom)
1971? A Little Copenhagen Night Music Freedom released 1977?
1972 Universe Prestige With Oscar Brashear (trumpet), Harold Land tenor sax), Arthur Adams (guitar), Chuck Rainey (electric bass), Ndugu (drums)
1973 Blues for Walls Prestige 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 Live at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago Volume One Enja Trio, with Cecil McBee (bass), Roy Haynes (drums); in concert
1973 Live at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago Volume Two Enja Trio, with Cecil McBee (bass), Roy Haynes (drums); in concert
1973 Playin' in the Yard Prestige Trio, with Bob Cranshaw (electric bass), Kenny Clarke (drums); in concert
1974 Northern Windows Prestige 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? Recorded Live at the Great American Music Hall Concord Jazz released 1983?
1976 As Long as There's Music Artists House Duo, with Charlie Haden (bass)
1976 Something Special Contemporary Quartet, with Denny Diaz (guitar), Leroy Vinnegar (bass), Al Williams (drums); in concert; released 1994
1976 Hampton Hawes at the Piano Contemporary Trio, with Ray Brown (bass), Shelly Manne (drums)
1977? Memory Lane Live Jas

As sidemanEdit

With Gene Ammons

With Sonny Criss

With Art Farmer

With Dexter Gordon

With Wardell Gray

  • Live in Hollywood (Xanadu 1952 [1978])

With Barney Kessel

With Warne Marsh

With Charles Mingus

With Blue Mitchell

With Red Mitchell

With Art Pepper

With Shorty Rogers

With Sonny Rollins

With Bud Shank

With Sonny Stitt


  • 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 alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m 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.
  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.
  6. ^ "Hampton Hawes (1928-1977) - Find A Grave Memorial". Findagrave.com. Retrieved 1 July 2021.

External linksEdit