In 1977 Hampton Hawes, a woefully underrated pianist, composer and writer, died at the age of 48 from a brain hemorrhage. Known only to the most astute jazz musician and aficionados, Hawes had accomplished a great deal to be considered a bonafide jazz legend. His brief time here included performances with Dexter Gordon, Teddy Edwards (another criminally underrated black artist) and Howard Mcgee in a band that also counted Charlie Parker among its members. After military service, Hawes toured extensively during the mid ’50s and was recognized by Downbeat Magazine as a “New Star of the Year.”

Beset by an all-too-common heroin addiction, Hawes was arrested in a sting operation and sentenced to twice the mandatory minimum sentence for opiate possession. In 1961, while serving time, he wrote a letter to President Kennedy, the result of which was that he was the second-to-last person granted executive clemency by JFK before his assassination.

During the ’70s Hawes wrote an autobigraphy called “Raise Up Off Me” that was heralded by critics as one of the greatest ever literary contributions by a musician. And in 2004 his posthumous reputation continued to grow, as Los Angeles declared November 13th “Hampton Hawes Day” in honor of his birthday.

With lapped shoulder seam, Hawes is pictured above on his 1964 album “The Green Leaves of Summer,” and can be heard below performing “All The Things You Are.” — JASON MARSHALL

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