Home Masthead Gunter Hampel at 80: Still Ahead of Time

Gunter Hampel at 80: Still Ahead of Time


One has to know and love each of these styles which made the idea of jazz until the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s until now 2017alive. Now we have those terrible Jazz schools which have the ideas of keeping the Broadway tunes alive. Luckily we have those great recordings on LPs, CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays to remember what had happened and I am calling myself lucky to be of a vital part enclosed in knowing everyone personally, from Thelonious Monk, Kenny Clarke, Milt Jackson, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman, Archie Shepp, Jeanne Lee (Mr Hampel’s celebrated and now, late wife), Marion Brown, Steve McCall and am and was fortunate to be a part of it because my inheritances of my family, my dad was an incredible piano player, who could improvise hours by hours. He had never heard jazz but called it playing from his fantasies and a grandfather who had led several bands from folk musics and classical music that goes back to (before the) 1800’s or something and I am glad to have met Jeanne and am even more happy that our son Ruomi and daughter Cavana are now a vital part of my new group, the GH Music+Dance Improvisation Company whose members come from Brasil, Taiwan, Africa, Turkey and Germany and (here in New York) the USA.

JdG: Is there a conscious intent that drives you when you are making music?

GH: Anyone who ever had the experience to play basketball, or soccer, or play Jazz music in a team knows how challenging it is to be and play and perform in a group, a team knows what a team spirit is capable of doing with this group experience; anyone who is playing professionally or just for fun knows the things you can achieve when the group is happening. You are not only conscious, you’re asked to leave you ego at home and dedicate all you’ve got to make the team enjoying to do this together!

JdG: Writing, for you, seems to be inspirational… Do you sometimes try to sit down to write?

GH: Writing is mostly inspiration. I have to practice like a basketball or soccer player, alone or with the team. when you force yourself, you can sit hours and days at the piano, or play your flute, or bass clarinet and bang on the vibraphone, and nothing goes, but then, you can feel it coming and you’ve got to sit down and record it on a tape, or better start composing on a sheet of empty music paper, sometimes one not after another, at another time the flow comes so fast you have a hard time writing it down, and you have to continue at another day, week or year. Yesterday I picked up a tune I wrote 10 years ago and finished the composition today… (trails off)


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