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Munich Summer Piano Festival 1994
Lionel Hampton was selling out arenas well into his autumn years. The godfather of big band jazz and true pioneer of the vibraphone had built up such a reputation in his eight-decade career that audiences around the world turned out to hear the icon unspool his legendary repertoire. Here, like in many of his later concerts, he stands in front of an orchestra (the St. Petersburg State Orchestra) on the vibraphone – an instrument he revolutionized in jazz, utilizing his drummer's dexterity on the mallets, and turning it into a solo instrument. There is a part later in the show where he jumps on the kit in tribute to his roots.
Hampton had suffered a serious stroke only three years before this concert and was in a remarkable period of fruitfulness that lasted almost up until his death in 2002. The man who tamed and popularized that crazy New Orleans music and raised some of its most eminent practitioners – Quincy Jones, Charles Mingus Dinah Washington – still had the twinkle in his eye and bucketloads of stage presence. The repertoire is to die for, featuring originals as well as tracks by Dave Brubeck, Benny Goodman, George Gershwin and a tribute to his early collaborator and influence, Louis Armstrong, with "What A Wonderful World."
Tuesday, June 30, 2026