Lionel Hampton Big Band at Berklee

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The new Lionel Hampton Big Band features Berklee alumnus Jason Marsalis on vibraphone and world-class musicians who played with Hampton himself: fellow alumni, saxophonists Mark Gross and Lance Bryant, and bassist Christian Fabian. The Lionel Hampton Estate, eager to have the Big Band reactivate, granted permission in 2015 to launch a new version of the band, co-led by Marsalis, the youngest member of the famed Marsalis family.


“Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Buddy Rich, Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, Quincy Jones, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie—they all played with Hamp,” says Bryant, Hampton’s final musical director. “Now new audiences are finding out what made him so popular. We know the secret—we all played with him—and we do all the original arrangements that made him a star.”


Lionel Hampton Big Band featuring Jason Marsalis will perform at the Berklee Performance Center (BPC), 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA, on Wednesday, November 30, at 8:00 p.m. Admission is $15 in advance and $20 on the day of show. Tickets can be purchased at or at the BPC box office.


More about Lionel Hampton: Lionel Hampton, known as “Hamp,” was the first jazz vibraphonist and was one of the most popular jazz musicians of the 1930s. He was known to maintain his basic swing style while also being open minded musically. Although he was known as a vibraphonist, he began his musical career as a drummer who occasionally played the xylophone. He became the first jazz improviser to record on vibraphone in 1930, after Louis Armstrong asked him to accompany him in the background of “Memories of You” and “Shine.” Hamp was discovered in 1936 by Benny Goodman when he was performing with his band at Paradise Cafe in Los Angeles, and joined Gene Krupa, Teddy Wilson, and Benny Goodman himself to become the Benny Goodman Quartet. After much success with Goodman, Hamp formed his own big band in 1940 and landed a huge hit with “Flying Home.” The group played mostly bebop music with a strong R&B influence. He had major success in the industry with his enthusiasm, bringing joy to people even after his passing. Hamp passed away in 2002 at the age of 94.