Home Masthead Gunter Hampel at 80: Still Ahead of Time

Gunter Hampel at 80: Still Ahead of Time


The whole idea to ring the Africans and sell them as slaves into the USA is a crime, no matter how influential it was on creating Jazz, on European tuned instruments. Because those slaves had to work knee-deep in water, bend over to pick the cotton fields, and were forbidden to play their own African music on their own African instruments: Well you would probably state, like everyone else is, “But that was the beginning of Jazz! Those field songs, those spirituals, those great suffering, which is still the background for Jazz music as a most deep felt and sad and overcoming and surviving the pressures of a white society of, mostly European people who have killed, I do not know how many, but where there a million Indians in the USA and South America.

In New York I always had an old drunken Indian sitting on the doorsteps and blaming everyone who was passing by that they killed his brothers and sisters and should go back to Europe or wherever they had been coming from. I was invited after my performance at the theatre for the New York City by three American Indians, to be part of a pow wow, which was on the 28th floor of a building in the middle of New York and was a meeting of ALL of the Indian tribes of north and South America, and they wanted me to be part of it, after our concert i was dancing, holding hands, us in a circle and believe it or not that was so strong, we were several feet above the top roof because of our circled energies, raised. Well that is the music I play, with my Afro-American friends and with all the other races in the world. We have the power to change, and that was and is always the power of a group, a country or off all people on earth.

Before I continue I want to remark, that this are some facts of how Jazz got together in the USA and not in Europe, or Africa or elsewhere, because slavery was and is until this day a common tool. It seems to be part of our challenge, to be here on earth. The Yin and Yang and that’s why Jazz is no exception of how something so great and timeless can be created, regardless of race, or size or doing or thinking. Though being cut off of their resources the Africans were not only forbidden to play their African music, they were told, to use the European instruments and learn how to play them. they did, and had to learn the classical European harmony rules within the 12 tone scales, had to learn the European instruments, they learned to play the European instruments, which had been brought in by way of European orchestras, how the classical jazz combo , with a trumpet, a saxophone, a piano, bass and drums. They were learning the European instruments and the laws of harmonies, changes and did something, which even Johann Sebastian Bach had done; they improvised, on European changes. The key to this, what I am talking about is Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans function after they buried the dead, the started a farewell party and thus staring to put together the only instrument which Jazz added to the otherwise European ones, in forming a drum set, to be played by one person, and not of 4,5 or 6 of the percussion section in the symphony orchestra. From Baby Dodds, Zutty Singleton and others… Max Roach put the drum set together to be played by one person and not by five or six and that completed the idea of swing, of groove of excitements beyond.

All the JAZZ history lead to ALL those different styles, old-time, swing, bebop, West Coast, Free Jazz… and then came the backbeat music and it was all over a commercial backbeat and a guitar and the horns are riffing behind a guitar. Except a few people continued the Free Jazz to keep the idea alive and themselves to be endlessly creative…


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