There is one group that celebrated his 90th birthday last year and another that is celebrating it this year -- depending on which biography they believe. It's only a sure fact that he was born in April and almost single-handedly paved the way for one instrument into jazz. Lionel Hampton, who started out as a drummer, touched the vibraphone for the first time in 1930 when it was still a new instrument. He immediately ventured into a recording studio to make records with Louis Armstrong. It was not the last occasion for Lionel Hampton to perform historical deeds. Together with Benny Goodman, drummer Gene Krupa and pianist Teddy Wilson he formed one of the first groups that brought black and white musicians on stage together. Lionel Hampton also fronted his own big bands, and he has been an active musician to this day. The uncertainty about his birth year gave him opportunity to enrich the music world twofold. Last year he produced a CD for his 90th birthday which will shortly be released in Germany (late April / early May). Another CD is planned for release in the fall -- even though this is not an official birthday CD. Georg Hirsch has listened to very new and very old recordings by Lionel Hampton and spoken with the senior master.

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