Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 13 December 1928, Los Angeles; d there 22 May 1977) Piano, composer. He made his pro debut while in high school and was active on the West Coast with Big Jay McNeely, Dexter Gordon, others; he led his own trios after U.S. Army service '52-4, mostly with bassist Red Mitchell. A modern stylist influenced by Bud Powell; an underrated composer. He recorded as a sideman with Wardell Gray (Live In Hollywood on Xanadu); Piano East/West '53 (later on Fantasy) had Hawes on one side, East Coast pianist Freddie Redd on the other, with commercial constraint typical of the era's self-consciousness. Three volumes of The Trio '55 and three of All Night Session '56 are mature genius, the latter recorded in one unedited session with Mitchell, Jim Hall, drummer Bruz Freeman, all on Contemporary. A trio LP by Charles Mingus with Dannie Richmond '57 is often reissued; back to Contemporary for Four! (quartet with Barney Kessel), For Real! (with Scott La Faro, Frank Butler on drums, Harold Land), Sonny Rollins And The Contemporary Leaders, all '58. This period was his peak, his phrasing even at fast tempos precisely executed, flowing rhythmically and lucid, with musical thoughts arising one from another; but his career stopped when he was sentenced to ten years in a prison hospital for possession of heroin, released '64 after writing to President Kennedy.
Further Contemporary LPs '64-6 included The Green Leaves Of Summer; under-appreciated at home, he toured the world '67-9: albums Hampton Hawes In Europe on MPS with bassist Eberhard Weber, trio Spanish Steps '68 on Black Lion, solo The Challenge '68 on Storyville, Key For Two '69 on Affinity with Martial Solal, second piano, bassist Pierre Michelot and Kenny Clarke. Back home he was prevented by the cabaret card law from performing in NYC. Albums included The Two Sides Of Hampton Hawes (two-disc set, one with strings added) and Memory Lane (two vocals by Joe Turner), both '70, later on Jasmine UK; A Little Copenhagen Night Music '71 on Arista. Influenced during that decade by modal music, he played electric piano and synthesizer; further albums: Live At The Jazz Showcase In Chicago '73 with Cecil McBee and Roy Haynes on Enja; quintet/nonet sets Universe (with Land), Blues For Walls, Northern Windows (with Carol Kaye on electric bass) on Prestige '72-4; Live At The Great American Music Hall '75 on Concord Jazz had duos with bassist Mario Suraci, solo piano suite 'The Status Of Maceo'; Killing Me Softly With His Song '76 with Ray Brown and Shelly Manne was the last of the great series on Contemporary. He died of a stroke. There are reissues and live recordings on Fantasy, Fresh Sound and Moon; As Long As There's Music on Artists House (duets with Charlie Haden) and Hampton Hawes At The Piano on Contemporary were released after his death; he also played on Haden's The Golden Number on A&M, dedicated to him; performed/recorded with Joan Baez mid-'70s. Autobiography Raise Up Off Me was written with Don Asher.