Hampton Hawes....where to start?

I've heard about this guy for decades, but never heard any of his music on the radio or anywhere else. If any of you are familiar with him, I'd like your suggestions of where to start. What would you consider his best album(s)? I have a Rhapsody account, I'd rather not have to listen to his whole catalog to find the gems. Thanks.......mitch
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I'm a big fan of Jazz in general and collect a lot of piano Jazz. I have fourteen Hampton Hawes LPs where he is the leader and many others were he's the sideman. None of these are a disappointment.

One of my favorite is on Artist House, "As Long As There's Music." Hampton excels on this recording, expressing emotional beyond many of his best works on the Contemporary label that are truly super recordings.

What's special about this one is the interaction between Hampton Hawes and Charlie Haden. I love Charlie Haden, have more LPs of his than I can count and these two together is extraordinary.

There are thee "Hampton Hawes All Night Session" releases and all are super. If you can only get one, volume 3 is a bit unique, a combination of Hard Bop plus three spontaneously improvised variations of blues tunes including one by Duke Ellington.

Red Mitchell on bass and Jim Hall guitar with Bruz Freeman on drums make "Hampton Hawes All Night Session" a unique look into his career in 1956, it's a really cool album.

The album, "Four! Hampton Hawes Album." was released two years later, another on the Contemporary Label. I have the original which is a bit hard to get now but the later OJC pressings are wonderful too.

"Four !" has an impressive lineup, Hampton Hawes - piano, Barney Kessel - guitar, Red Mitchell - double bass and Shelly Manne - drums. Hampton Hawes was only 30 years old in 1958 and mature beyond his years in this session.

The following from Wikipedia help explain the passion of this musical great and some of the struggles he faced during his life:

U.S. army in Japan from 1952 to 1954, Hawes formed his own trio, with bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Chuck Thompson. The three-record Trio sessions made by this group in 1955 on Contemporary Records were considered some of the finest records to come out of the West Coast at the time. The next year, Hawes added guitarist Jim Hall for the All Night Sessions - three records made during a non-stop recording session at the Contemporary Studios in Los Angeles.

Struggling for many years with a heroin addiction, Hawes became the target of a federal undercover operation in Los Angeles in 1958. The Drug Enforcement Administration bargained that he would inform on suppliers in L.A. rather than risk a successful music career. Hawes was arrested on heroin charges on his 30th birthday, but refused to cooperate, and was sentenced to ten years in a federal prison hospital - twice the mandatory minimum. In the weeks between his trial and sentencing, he recorded an album of spirituals and gospel songs, The Sermon, for Contemporary Records.

In 1961, after serving three years at Fort Worth Federal Medical Facility in Texas, Hawes was watching President Kennedy's inaugural speech on television, when he became convinced that Kennedy would pardon him. In an almost miraculous turn, President Kennedy granted Hawes Executive Clemency in 1963, the 42nd of only 43 such pardons given in the final year of Kennedy's presidency.

Hawes influenced a great number of prominent pianists, including André Previn, Oscar Peterson, Horace Silver, Claude Williamson, Pete Jolly, and Toshiko Akiyoshi. Hawes' own influences came from a number of sources, including the gospel music and spirituals he heard in his father's church as a child, and the boogie-woogie piano of Earl Hines. Hawes also learned much from pianists Bud Powell and Nat King Cole among others. By Hawes' own account, however, his principal source of influence was his friend Charlie Parker.

Great choice you made, a wonderful artist I've listened to for years.
Good stuff Albert.
I like Hampton's playing very much and agree with any of the " All Night Session!" recordings.
Also like "For Real" feaures the wonderful Harold Land on Tenor saxophone.
" Blues The Most" and "The Green Leaves Of Summer".
It's difficult to find a bad Hampton Hawes recording.
" Blues The Most" and "The Green Leaves Of Summer."
It's difficult to find a bad Hampton Hawes recording.

I have both those albums, and agree.

There are a few piano jazz artists that really reach me, Hampton Hawes is one of them.

Others (perhaps predictable), Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Dave Brubeck, Bud Powell, Count Basie and Phineas Newborn come to mind.

Perhaps these would not be on a reviewers list of the finest Jazz pianist of all time but the are on mine. I play these every week, these artists and the Blue Note Jazz jazz titles from the 1950s and 1960s are some of the most important music of our time.
Albert I agree and there are many talented jazz pianist who've come and passed on. This past weekend I just couldn't get enough of Theloneous Monk's " Live At The It Club" it just captivated me, love that brilliant man.
I have all the Mosaic Monk releases and the Acoustic Sounds Tenor repress too. I did not know about "Live At The It Club" but found samples at All Music.

Odd this was done in 1964 and I somehow missed this recording all this time. Thanks for bringing it up.

Please follow the link and listen to Hampton Hawes and Charlie Haden together, this is the Artist House release I mentioned.

Charles and Albert, you guys are the greatest. Thank you for your input.

I love this forum!
Try "Spanish Steps", "Green Leaves of Summer" and there are 2 "Live" recordings that were released from the Montmartre in Copenhagen on Arista Freedom. "A Little Copenhagen Night Music" "Live At Montmartre". Also "Here And Now" and "Four"are good.
Check out his biography "Raise Up Off Me". Great read but not sure if it's still in print.Enjoy the swing!!
My favorite is; ''For Real''
w. Harold Land , Scott Lafaroe and Larry Bunker