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Portland Jazz Festival: A Celebration of ECM

George Wein

A few dozen professional musicians, thousands of fans and more than 10,000 students from seven states and three Canadian provinces jammed onto the University of Idaho campus for the 40th annual Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival. It was the fourth festival since Hampton’s death in August of 2002 and the last to be overseen by its founder, UI music professor Lynn “Doc” Skinner. Bassist, composer, arranger and bandleader John Clayton now has the reins as artistic director and is planning the 2008 festival. In retirement, Skinner will stand by as an advisor.

Hampton first performed at the festival in 1984, developed a fast friendship with Skinner, and the next year began a formal association with what was then known as the University of Idaho Jazz Festival. Soon, the festival took Hampton’s name. His presence and influence were so powerful at the university that in 1987 it named its school of music after him. Skinner told the 2007 audience in the huge Kibbie Dome that from the beginning his goal for the festival was to use jazz education “to make a difference in the lives of young people.” With his characteristic enthusiasm, Hampton joined Skinner’s campaign. He played at the festival and supported it for 23 years.

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