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GUNTER HAMPEL:
FROM MONK TO HENZE AND BEYOND

Conversation with Steve Koenig

East Village, New York City
March 31, 2009

Gunter Hampel, composer, vibraphonist, bass clarinetist, and inexorable life force shared his living room with me for another fun, deep and delightful conversation about his experiences with Thelonious Monk, Hans Werner Henze, Wolfgang Fortner, Manfred Schoof, Willem Breuker and others from early in his career.

The talk evolved to Hampel's successful music education programs, working with European rappers and breakdancers, new and old ESP-disk' stories, and the continuation of his own Birth Records label, started in 1968.

Lots of name-dropping and star-gazing, from the ancient to the future, and the present, which includes a well-received 2009 solo set at the Bowery Poetry Club, available on DVD.

Although we didn't discuss it here, Hampel was bicycling downtown when the first plane hit the WTC. Profoundly disturbed, naturally, it drove him, as it did so many other musicians and artists, to witness, to write narratives of what he experienced, and to immediately join others to make more music in order to continue the creation of positive energy in our world.

For a good sense of Gunter Hampel's musical history, read the interview I did with him nearly ten years ago in AllAboutJazz.com

It's well worth a visit to his own website, gunterhampelmusic.de/ where you can find his tour itineraries, audio clips, as well as a complete catalog of original vinyl, CDs and DVDs. (Hint for collectors: The German vinyl pressings have always been excellent.)

Post script 4/16/09

At the intermission of his concert with the Walter Thompson Orchestra tonight, reedman, composer and improv systems forefather Anthony Braxton tells me, looking straight in my eyes, "Tell Gunter I love him. I love him. He's my Countryman; he'll know what I mean. He's a great spirit. He's one of the earliest originators of... all this..." and not enough people appreciate his contribution, Braxton says, glowing from the music permeating the air.


Part One: Monk, Henze, Fortner, Breuker, Energies, Jazz Education for Youth - 51:57

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Part Two: Music Education, Bernard Stollman, ESP, Breakdancers - 37:16

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