Monday, August 31, 2009


Music vanguardist and multi-instrumentalist (bass,clarinet,flute,and vibes) Gunter Hampel was born on August 31, 1937, in Gttinger, Lower Saxony,Germany, has been under the spell of jazz since the end of WW II.
Louis Armstrong came streaming from the radio of a US army truck (1945) in the backyard of Gunter Hampel's home in Germany, and young Gunter, already immersed in European classical music, became intrigued with this new sound.

Hampel studied music from the age of 11 and by the time he was 20 was leading his own band. An accomplished vibist, he is also proficient on clarinet, flute and saxophone - perhaps taking after his grandfather, who was a multi-instrumental street musician. An early pioneer of European free improvisation, Hampel recorded Heartplants with Manfred Schoof and Alex Von Schlippenbach in January 1965, worked with Marion Brown, John McLaughlin and Jeanne Lee (later his wife) and in 1969 set up his own Birth label, on which he recorded collaborations with like-minded experimentalists such as Anthony Braxton, Willem Breuker, Sunny Murray and Enrico Rava.

He also began a long-term association with US clarinettist Perry Robinson. An interest in contemporary composition led to his inclusion on the 1971 project that united Don Cherry with Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki (Humus/Actions). In 1972 he formed his Galaxie Dream Band, with which he has since toured Africa, Asia and South America as well as Europe and the USA. Now dividing his time between New York and Germany, Hampel remains a champion of new music, still running his label and his band and finding time for other projects, such as guesting with Cecil Taylor in the pianist's Orchestra Of Two Continents (Winged Serpent (Sliding) Quadrants).

A variety of instruments began to occupy his hands including clarinet, vibes, saxophone, accordion and flute. Soon he was composing. He toured Europe with many groups, including his own, and worked with Don Cherry, Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, Anthony Braxton, Steve McCall, Marion Brown, Lester Bowie, and his wife Jeanne Lee, to name just a few.

Operating out of Germany and the USA, after living in New York and several European cities throughout his life, Hampel continues to be active at jazz’ leading edge.

His notable career involves encyclopedic collaboration with North American and continental jazz legends, as well as a much younger generation of players.

Click to experience his music.
Reference - AAJ

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