The politics of Hamp

The politics of Hamp
MOSCOW - As the 2008 Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival kicked off Tuesday at the University of Idaho, historians were reflecting on the jazz legend's life.

The first annual Jazz History Conference got off on an academic foot with the keynote address delivered by Dr. Bruce Raeburn of the Hogan Jazz Archives at Tulane University.

A small group at the Idaho Commons heard Raeburn talk about Hamp's life, while showing some archival photos of the man whose name is associated with the festival and UI's music school.

Raeburn included a little bit about Hampton's politics and how he gravitated toward Republican friends, hanging out with the likes of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Senior.

Raeburn said this was in contrast to most jazz musicians, who were more moderate or a bit left-leaning.

"He was a politically conscious African-American jazz musician who chose to work for social justice and combat racism through established political channels, choosing the Republican party based on the belief that big government is not as effective a strategy for producing social change as grassroots campaigning and socially conscious action within private sector," Raeburn said.

The conference continues Wednesday. The music kicks off Tuesday night at 7:30 at Hamp's Gala at the UI Administration Building Auditorium.