She was one of the last guests to play at the Ellington House

Slide Hampton, the trombonist, composer and arranger who helped mold the sound of Duke Ellington’s Ellington House Band during its decades at the historic address, died on July 18. He was 89.

Ms. Hampton was born in Charlotte, N.C., on May 30, 1930, and studied piano and trombone at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

A year later, he enrolled at the North Carolina School of the Arts in New York, where he studied with the trombonist Don Hayward. When he went to New York in 1952, he landed a job as a soloist with the Fifth Dimension Orchestra, and with Roy Hamilton and Chistopher Rhodes, he played under Duke Ellington.

After that, he moved with Mr. Hamilton to Langston, Okla., in 1955. While in town, he met Don Knobb, the director of the Oxford Jazz Orchestra and a saxophonist. Mr. Knobb, who also became Ms. Hampton’s good friend, pressed her to learn trombone, and soon she was playing with Mr. Knobb’s orchestra. It was through him that she heard Eric Dolphy, a saxophonist, bandleader and composer from Harlem, and Ms. Hampton soon moved to New York.

She married Harry Richey, a saxophonist and teacher, in 1951, and he was an important influence on Ms. Hampton’s musical life. Mr. Richey took the family to the famous Tremont Avenue apartment of Dizzy Gillespie, where the two would gather over lunch. Ms. Hampton also befriended a number of professionals, including Dee Alexander, Thelonious Monk and Connie Kay.

Ms. Hampton’s talent was obvious. From 1955 to 1979, she had regular spots on the Steve Allen Television Show, and in 1956, she co-directed the movie concert of Duke Ellington’s Harlem Night.

When Mr. Ellington’s Ellington House left New York in 1971, Ms. Hampton continued to play, and during the rest of the 1970s she worked with other artists including Jimmy Dorsey, Lionel Hampton and Billy Eckstine.

Even after Duke Ellington’s death in 1976, Ms. Hampton continued to play with the Ellington House, and as the house grew obsolete, she continued performing on the legendary venue’s final months. She was one of the last guests to play at the Ellington House on June 23, 1980.

Ms. Hampton’s career is marked by a breadth of popular music. Her compositions included “Bet you can sing,” an upbeat jazz standard sung by Jimmy Dorsey; “The Flight,” a soulful ballad inspired by Miss Mary Oliver’s poetry; and “Hey There’s Something in My Drink,” a ballad honoring Ray Charles.

At the times of his passing, Ms. Hampton was living in Florida with her daughters and four grandchildren.

Leave a Comment