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At age 81, vibraphonist Hampton, writing with Haskins, biographer of Lena Horne, Mabel Mercer et al., recalls his 60 years as a major figure in jazz history. He is a lively, entertaining narrator when describing his boyhood in Birmingham, Ala., first band dates in Chicago, his Uncle Richard's experiences in working for Al Capone and driving the car in which Bessie Smith rode to her death, the transformation of Ruth Jones to Dinah Washington, and gigs with Benny Goodman in the first mixed white-black ensembles. But in later chapters, which catalogue his accomplishments, the musician's excessive self-congratulation about his successes as a housing magnate, Republican fund-raiser and friend of George Bush detracts from the book's value as a musical chronicle. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
"Lionel Hampton is one of this century's great musical innovators,
whose achievements will last forever. There is no question in the
minds of all musicians as to what this man has done for their art
and for America as a land of boundless creativity."--" Vise
President George Bush, "
from a telegram to Lionel Hampton
on the occasion of his receiving
the 1981 Monarch I Award