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slide hampton
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  May 2007

Slide Hampton interview page 2

slide hamptonSH:  Well, she’s so free when she sings but, you know, the thing is that she might be playing a percussion instrument at the same time and playing some exact rhythm patterns and singing completely free of it.  It’s amazing.

Smitty:  That is amazing. You mentioned at one point that in doing these arrangements and writing that there was such a learning curve there. Talk about what that learning process was as you continued to write.

SH:  Well, the whole thing with arranging or composing is of course, developing a sense for resolution and harmony, for color and beauty, and all the Brazilian music is based on these things. This is the foundation of that music.  They can harmonize the same composition a million different ways and each way sounds like it must have been the original harmony.

Smitty:  Oh, man. It doesn’t get any sweeter that.

SH:  So I learned so much about harmony just working with these compositions.

Smitty:  Absolutely, and you did a very nice tribute, a live tribute, what, about a year ago?

SH:  Yes, yes.

Smitty:  Talk about that.

SH:  This concert at the Tribeca Performing Center of the Arts and we had this group that’s on the CD here, Slide Plays Jobim, and we also had a Big Band playing Jobim compositions and a couple of other Brazilian composers too, and it was just really a great pleasure.

Smitty:  Talk about what that night meant to you because, now, think about it:  at a young age you heard this music and you wanted to play it at some point and blend your trombone into Jobim’s music, and to do that on a record is fantastic and amazing in itself, but to have such a wonderful night of live music and to play this music as a tribute to him, talk about what that night meant to you.

SH:  Well, we had the opportunity to get all of these great musicians together and really pay our respect to this music and also show our respect for the musicians by giving them the best conditions to work under as possible playing this beautiful music.  We had about five rehearsals and we paid for all of the rehearsals, we paid the guys money that they usually don’t get in a large ensemble situation playing in New York or anywhere else, and it was just wonderful to have the ability to be a part of organizing that event with my friend Tony Charles.

Smitty:  Yes.

SH:  The two of us actually organized this whole project and it was just a real pleasure.

Smitty:  Yes, we must give it up for Tony Charles.  He’s a great inspiration and he’s one of those guys that does so much behind the scenes and makes so many wonderful things happen.

SH:  That’s true, very true.  He’s been a big help to me.  I’ve never met anyone else like him that has the love for music and for trying to make music happen in a way that really shows the musicians the respect that they deserve and show them the great tribute to the music itself.

Smitty:  Absolutely, my friend, and you had a number of special guests that night with Slide Plays Jobim, right?

SH:  Yes, yes, well, we had so many people that night, so many special guests.

Smitty:  Yes, and I can think of Roy Hargrove.

SH:  Yes, Roy was there.  Roy was there and we had a trumpet ensemble for that night that was just fantastic and also the whole brass section and the whole Big Band.  Everything was just really the kind of thing that you hope that you get to have happen in your life and we finally had the chance to realize it.

Smitty:  Very cool.  What a great night that must have been, you know?  And no doubt Jobim would have been so proud of what you accomplished with this great music and putting it together the way you did, it was without a doubt an elegant night of great music.

SH:  Well, we really tried to bring his spirit to the people and I’m sure that they really felt that way about it too, and we still have an opportunity to present Jobim and it’s always a wonderful experience whenever we do.

Smitty:  Yes indeed.  So, now, when you think about all that you’ve accomplished with your music and this great project as well, how does it feel to be a living legend?  (Both laugh.)

SH:  It feels like we’re just finally starting to learn to make some music at 75 years old, just starting to learn.

Smitty:  What a great answer, your humility bespeaks the great person and incredible musician that you are.  Well, I was thinking about this, I said, you know, I’ve gotta throw him one little curve, because you really are, seriously speaking.  None of us ever admit accomplishments to the degree that they are because sometimes we don’t even see them, but you truly are a living legend, and I’m speaking as a fan and as an individual who knows and understands your music.  You truly are a living legend.

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