Captain Howdy

Did Lionel Hampton have Tourette syndrome or what the hell was his problem?

31 posts in this topic

I've been listening to the Charlie Christian Masters of Jazz Series and once again I find that every track Hampton plays on is ruined by his obstreperous barnyard vocalizations. For the same reason I can't listen to Benny Goodman's quartet recordings. I can't imagine why a bandleader infamous for "The Ray" put up with that racket. Curiously, on most of the tracks recorded under Hampton's own name that I've listened to his baa-ing and grunting can't be heard, which suggests he used it consciously as a way of notifying listeners of his presence on other people's sessions.

Of course Hamp wasn't the only musician who indulged in vocalizations--Oscar Peterson often sounded like the Hamburglar scatting--but he seems to have been the most obnoxious. So I'm wondering 1) do vocalizations annoy other people as much as they do me? 2) are they common among musicians? 3) do they have any purpose?

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How about Keith Jarrett? :D

I find the kind of grunts you allude to rather more annoying with certain others (such as Oscar Peterson, in fact) but have come to accept them as part of the game. And ther are others that I cannot single out right now but no doubt will come across their recordings one day again.

No, to me Hamp's exhortations are just part of the performance that propel things along. Nothing wrong with that IMO.
As for making his presence felt - who else would there have been to play the vibes like THAT at that time? Red Norvo? Adrian Rollini? Yo' kiddin'? ;)

Sometimes you just get carried away and it all finds its way onto the final recordings. Sometimes even when you are not actually part of the band. I remember some blues recordings from the 50s where in the line-up one "participant" and his "instrument" were listed as follows:
Roosevelt Sykes - encouragement and zest

See what I mean? :D

As for actual "Tourette's syndrome", I am certainly not one overly impressed by P.C. (or even insisting on it) but this is not an affliction to be treated lightly. I know of one (amateur) musician around here who does suffer from Tourette's. He has got things pretty much under control but if you see him offstage (in front of the stage during a concert) you might think every now and then he is about to explode, and maybe it is only the fact that his instrument is the harp (he is a pretty good blues harp player) prevents him from the kind of on-stage "vocalizations" that you allude to. Maybe in those moments on stage his foot stomping (in perfect accentuation, mind you, so the band he appears with at times might almost dispense with their drummer) provides the outlet for him to let off steam? Not something unknown elsewhere without it being attributable to Tourette's - remember John Lee Hooker? And even in much more "serious" settings - it was written once that "Jimmy Giuffre blows a mean foot". :D
Don't you think this stomping can get on some peopel's nerves too?

Different tastes and expectations, that's all ...

 

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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Yeah, my reference to Tourette syndrome was tongue in cheek; no offense intended to anyone. Your example of  Roosevelt Sykes providing encouragement and zest reminds me of Elvis Costello's live at the El Mocambo recording which I don't believe I've heard but is supposedly infamous for one guy in the audience yelling loudly throughout the entire show. As far as I'm concerned, anything that isn't produced by an instrument or an ordained vocalist shouldn't be on the recording. I'm willing to tolerate "exhortations" more in live recordings, but in a studio I think musicians should contain themselves. I should also admit that I have a near-phobia of people making non-verbal noises with their mouths. That's why I can't stand scat singers, and Iggy Pop and James Brown quickly get on my nerves. :lol:

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Re EC @ the El Maocambo, yeah 'that one guy' was having a bit too much of a good time...it's annoying because he probably did that at every show he went to, it's got nothing to do with the particularities of that one.  But when it is a genuine response to what's going down in the moment, I not only have no problem with that, I think it's great.  Your (near-)phobia reminds me of the misguided preachers who want to prosecute women for saying "Oh God!"...

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For the worst extramusical noises by a musician listen to the pianist Masabumi Kikuchi on some of Paul Motian's On Broadway albums. He sounds like a wild animal gnawing on a human bone. Truly disturbing. Ruins everything.

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1 hour ago, danasgoodstuff said:

Re EC @ the El Maocambo, yeah 'that one guy' was having a bit too much of a good time...it's annoying because he probably did that at every show he went to, it's got nothing to do with the particularities of that one.  But when it is a genuine response to what's going down in the moment, I not only have no problem with that, I think it's great.  Your (near-)phobia reminds me of the misguided preachers who want to prosecute women for saying "Oh God!"...

I was at the El Mo when that was recorded. I don't recall the guy yelling but I may have taken it for granted since I always complain about people being too noisy during performances.  I think it's gotten worse over the last few years but have to admit it's pissed me off since the early '60s.  I've gotten into fights at rock concerts with people talking while I was trying to listen to the music. 

I've got the Costello recording. (It was part of a box set.)  Have to listen again. As i recall the only thing left out from the live event was Nick Lowe singing "I Love the Sound of Broken Glass." 

Edited by medjuck

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Who was it made that noise on the Blakey St. Germian version of "Moanin"? Helen Humes, Helen Hayes, who was it...ah, yeah, Hazel Scott. That shit worked.

As for Lionel Hampton, hell yeah, that was him, it was part of his playing, you listen to it, it's always right in line with his phrasing. He was a boisterous, noise-making swinging motherfucker, period, in every regard, and he made plenty of that on plenty of his own records as well. He could showmanship just as good as he played, and he wasn't even from Houston, Texas.

Location, location, location!

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2 hours ago, JSngry said:

Who was it made that noise on the Blakey St. Germian version of "Moanin"? Helen Humes, Helen Hayes, who was it...ah, yeah, Hazel Scott. That shit worked.

 

That was Mae Mezzrow and Hazel Scott who were sharing a table with friends at the Club Saint Germain that night. I was there too but kept my enthusiasm on a rather quiet side.

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15 hours ago, Captain Howdy said:

 course Hamp wasn't the only musician who indulged in vocalizations--Oscar Peterson often sounded like the Hamburglar scatting--but he seems to have been the most obnoxious. So I'm wondering 1) do vocalizations annoy other people as much as they do me? 2) are they common among musicians? 3) do they have any purpose?

1. I don't like it but I'm not put of by it either.

2. Bud Powell springs to mind and Slam Stewarts humming while bowing a solo.

3. ask Freud

 

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well hollerin´ along while playing the instrument is kind of part of the game. This never bothered me, heard many of the genius musicians do it. In my youth when I didn´t know to much about the music but heard some of the more easy listenin stuff others had (Hampton, Errol Garner) it was also that guttural singing along their improvisations. Even drummers do it. Heard Klook do it, Blakey even said his voice got strained because doin so. Bud was most famous for it. There´s some live records where you hear him doin it really loud, especially on the summer ´64 stuff with Griffin. Griffin himself does a lot of "vocal" input......, so what´s the problem ? I think it´s people who want the stuff just "clean" , like chamber music, don´t know...., IMHO jazz has to have some noise in it, applause after solos, audiences and fellow musicians encouraging the soloists with "yeah man", "go on", and so on, just a great live atmosphere.....

Edited by Gheorghe

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You say exhortation, I say disrespect. There's one track where Hamp hollers throughout Charlie Christian's entire solo. It's completely unnecessary. I think the man just wanted all the attention for himself.

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3 hours ago, Captain Howdy said:

You say exhortation, I say disrespect. There's one track where Hamp hollers throughout Charlie Christian's entire solo.

I'd say he was totally zonked out by CC's playing.

Unnecessary reaction, maybe ... but still ....;)

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3 hours ago, Big Beat Steve said:

I'd say he was totally zonked out by CC's playing.

Unnecessary reaction, maybe ... but still ....;)

Maybe the problem is that I'm hearing it from a distorted perspective, i.e. someone listening to a scratchy recording, but even an amplified jazz guitar isn't very loud so I feel like the proper thing to do is shut the hell up and listen. But maybe in the room it was plenty loud.

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21 hours ago, crisp said:

For the worst extramusical noises by a musician listen to the pianist Masabumi Kikuchi on some of Paul Motian's On Broadway albums. He sounds like a wild animal gnawing on a human bone. Truly disturbing. Ruins everything.

I saw Paul Motian with Kikuchi in person at the Village Vanguard and your description is completely accurate. Is he a pianist or a wolf man? it was extremely peculiar and it ruined the experience for me.

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I once saw Eddie Palmieri live at the Regattabar and I don't know if they left his mic on for a reason, but his growls and grunts were very loud. There were times where it was louder than the entire band and if you've ever seen Eddie's band live, you know that this is hard to do. :) I found it very distracting.

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Not much worse than Hamp, frankly. ^_^ I think one of the reasons I find this so annoying is that it seems so affected, especially when classical keyboardists like Gould or Alfred Brendel do it. Lester Bangs derided Santana for making the-pain-of-universe-is-expressed-through-my-soul faces while playing (or words to that effect) and the exaggerated vocalizations seem to be a similar way of saying "Look at me! Look at me expressing myself down to the very depth of my soul!" I'm not just your run-of-the-mill musician: I'm an artist!"

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Y'all must be Episcopalians or some such. :g

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My tolerance--even enthusiasm--for it depends on the tune. It it's an up-tempo, boisterous tune, then a little vocalizing is just fine, and Hamp did a lot of up-tempo boisterous tunes. On the other hand, when it's a ballad or a quieter long-term improvisation of the kind Jarrett does, I find it distracting and irritating.

 

 

gregmo

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Some people just make noise.

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1 hour ago, JSngry said:

Some people just make noise.

and others make music....

 

 

gregmo

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And still others make both, apart or together!

And some people make sandwiches, those are good people to know!

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A number of professional tennis players are worse when it comes to grunting and making noise!!!

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Hamp can do whatever he wants, in my book

Edited by Chuck Nessa
stupidity

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Just had to ask - Is a tourette a small female tourist? 

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