German multi-instrumentalist Gunter Hampel (1937), originally a vibraphonist,
was credited with starting the free-jazz scene in continental Europe in 1964 when he formed
a quintet with trumpeter Manfred Schoof and pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach that recorded Heartplants (january 1965). Hampel played vibraphone, flute and bass clarinet (that would remain his three main instruments), but composed only one of the five titles.
The quartet of Assemblage (december 1966), with Willem Breuker on several saxophones and clarinets, was a far more decisive unit, and Hampel stepped up as a composer with the 22-minute Assemblage and the eleven-minute Heroicredolphysiognomystery.
Relocating to Europe in 1967, the American black vocalist Jeanne Lee joined Hampel's and Breuker's quartet on
Gunter Hampel Group + Jeanne Lee (april 1968).
Hampel's growing confidence as a leader/composer
and Lee's acrobatic vocals highlighted
The 8th of July 1969 (july 1969), that also added
American saxophonist Anthony Braxton to the Hampel-Breuker-Lee quintet
and contained the 18-minute Morning Song and the 25-minute Crepuscule.
The magic combination of Hampel's conduction and Lee's decoration permeated
Ballet-Symphony (january 197O) for a quintet with Hampel, Lee, cello, bass and drums;
People Symphony (march 1970), that added Breuker on clarinet and tenor sax as well as Willem van Manen on trombone;
Out Of New York (july 1971), for a quartet with clarinetist Perry Robison and a bassist performing Hampel's seventh and eight symphonies;
Spirits (august 1971), a trio with Robinson;
Familie (april 1972), a spectacular trio with Braxton,
Waltz For 11 Universes In A Corridor (june 1972), a trio with violinist Toni Marcus containing
Waltz for 3 Universes in a Corridor and Galaxie Sun Dance.
Most of these albums were taken up by lengthy eponymous improvisations, that
Hampel painstakingly numbered according to the conventions of classical music.
Hampel and Lee then formed the Galaxie Dream Band, still a nine-piece unit on
the colossal jam Angel (may 1972), but, after
I Love Being With You (july 1972),
the imposing Broadway (july 1972),
Unity Dance (june 1973),
and Out From Under (january 1974), the first collection of shorter
expanded to an eleven-piece ensemble for
Journey to the Song Within (february 1974), that contained Bolero.
The Galaxie Dream Band shrank back to an octet for the
double-LP Celebrations (june 1974) and to a
sextet for Ruomi (october 1974), that did not feature Lee, and then
expanded again to an octet (with Lee and Braxton) for
Enfant Terrible (september 1975).
Transformation (september 1976), by a classic line-up featuring
Lee, Robinson, Schoof and flutist Thomas Keyserling,
and All Is Real (november 1978), by a quintet with Lee, Robinson, Keyserling and a percussionist,
marked a return to the extended format.
Despite being reduced to a quartet (with Robinson, Keyserling and a percussionist), the combo was still called Galaxie Dream Band on
Vogelfrei (october 1976).
The collaborations with Lee went beyond the Galaxie Dream Band:
Cosmic Dancer (september 1975) for a
quartet with Lee, Robinson and drummer Steve McCall,
and especially Freedom Of The Universe (june 1978), that contained
another lengthy meditation, and the double-LP Oasis (july 1978),
that contains the 20-minute Oasis.
Hampel resurrected the Galaxie Dream Band (now a sextet with Lee) for the
album-long improvisation of
All the Things You Could Be If Charles Mingus Was Your Daddy (july 1980),
and (as a quartet with Lee and Keyserling) for the shorter pieces of A Place To Be With Us (january 1981), and (as
a quintet with Lee, Robinson and Keyserling) for
Life On This Planet (july 1981), that contained the side-long
Flying Carpet (april 1978) and Wellen (may 1980) were solo albums.
Hampel's next project was a 14-piece Big Band (with Lee and the usual collaborators) that recorded Cavana (december 1981) and Generator (same session), and expanded to the New York Orchestra
(trumpeter Curtis Fowlkes, tuba player Bob Stewart, guitarist Bill Frisell)
for the live Fresh Heat (february 1985).
Jubilation (november 1983) was credited to the All Stars: Lee, Robinson, Keyserling, Schoof, altoist Marion Brown, trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff, bassist Barre Phillips and drummer Steve McCall.
Hampel and Lee pursued their partnership also on
Companion (november 1982), for a trio with Keyserling,
Celestial Glory (september 1991), for a quintet with Lee, Keyserling, Robinson, saxophonist Mark Whitecage, containing the 26-minute As If It Were A Bridge.
Challenge of the Now (august 2002)
His first collaboration with the Dance Improvisation Company yielded On Fire (january 2004), followed by Jungbrunnen/Fountain Of Youth (june 2006) and Joy + Pleasure - Energie Beyond Aggression (august 2012).
The Essence In The Nowness Of Reality (september 2009) features
a septet with Steve Swell (trombone), Daniel Carter (alto and soprano saxes and trumpet), Sabir Mateen (tenor sax, clarinet and flute), Bernd Oezsevim (drums), Johannes Schleiermacher (tenor sax) and Andreas Lang (bass).
The double-disc Gentle Joy (2011) collects live performances
by his European-New York Septet.
Günter Hampel launched the
European-New York Quintet, featuring his daughter
Cavana Lee on vocals along with Johannes Scheleiermacher (tenor
sax), Andreas Lang (bass) and Bernd Oezsevim (drums), on the double-disc
The European-New York Quintet
featuring his daughter
Cavana Lee (vocals), Johannes Scheleiermacher (tenor
sax), Andreas Lang (bass) and Bernd Oezsevim (drums) debuted on
The double-disc Open The Door To Gentleness (september 2013)
documents a live improvisation by a quartet with
Hampel on vibes, bass clarinet and flute.
Credited to Gunter Hampel Music with Dance Improvisation Company,
the double-disc live set 77 Birthday
Extravaganza/The Advancement Of Joy And Love In Intuitive Family Music
& Dance Teamwork (august 2014)
featured the leader on bass clarinet, balafon & vibes, Cavana Lee
Hampel on vocals, Johannes Schleiermacher on tenor sax and Bernd
Oezsevim on drums, plus Danillo Cardoso & Ruomi Lee Hampel as
dancers; and contains two colossal compositions:
Smiling Energy/Play With Me/Balafon/Enjoying Your Company/Magic Touch and the 33-minute Approachable/Godzilla/Happy Birthday Candles/Workout/Bounce/Lanky.
The live Bounce (june, 2017), that includes the 23-minute Smiling Energy, documents Gunter Hampel with Johannes Schleiermacher on sax and flute, Bernd Oezsevim on drums, and his daughter Cavana on vocals.
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