Canku Ota


(Many Paths)


An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


March 10, 2001 - Issue 31



Hampton Has Cool Vibe with Tribe


by Hannelore Sudermann Staff Writer The Spokesman Review


Hampton has cool vibe with tribe
Elementary schoolchildren perform for jazz great


Kevin German - The Spokesman-Review
From right, Dakotah Zimmerman, 7, Tequis Penney, 6, and Tommy Whiteplume, 4, perform a traditional drum song while Lionel Hampton sits in the background at Lapwai Elementary School.

LAPWAI, Idaho _ Though he's performed for kings and heads of state, and played in the world's greatest concert halls, Lionel Hampton was content to hold court Thursday afternoon in the bleacher-lined gym of Lapwai Elementary School.

The famous jazz musician smiled as nearly 20 students, the pride of the Nez Perce, performed for him and a full house of classmates, parents and teachers. They waved their fans, twirled in their blankets and jingled the bells on their clothes as they danced in circles to drums played by friends and classmates.
"This is my first time dancing for him, so I'm kind of nervous," said Cody Reuben, 12, shortly before his performance.

He carefully cradled the yellow, red and orange feathered bustle that his grandmother had made while he steadied himself for the "Fast and Fancy" dance he was about to perform.

In full costume and carefully perched on a bleacher with several other girls, his sister, Sasha, 11, said she was nervous, too. She remembered Hampton from previous visits.

"It was fun last year listening to him and watching the other dancers," she said.

But this was not only her first performance for Hampton, it was one of her first public dances ever.

The Reubens really had nothing to worry about. Both children and their classmates gave graceful and colorful performances to the loud approval of the audience of more than 200.

Bringing Hampton to Lapwai has become a tradition coinciding with his trip to the University of Idaho for the jazz festival that bears his name. Though the jazz great comes every year, Thursday's celebration was extra special since four of the Nez Perce drummers had just learned that an album they played on won a Grammy award the night before.

"I found out just a couple of minutes ago," said George Meninick Jr., who along with his cousin D.J. Meninick and friends E.J. Kipp and Andre Picard played drums and sang on one song for "Gathering of Nations Pow Wow."

The album won the music award for Best Native American Music Album.

"I'm surprised," Meninick said, with a grin. "I didn't even know it was up for an award. After this, I'm going to call my parents."

In addition to getting to perform for Hampton, the students were also treated to a half-hour of jazz with Hampton accompanied by Kuni Mikami on the piano, Christian Fabian on bass, Billy Contreras on the violin and Wally "Gator" Watson on drums. They played "C-Jam Blues," "How High the Moon" and "I've Got Rhythm."

The students especially remembered Watson from past performances. Last year, he gave his drums to the school.

The visits to the reservation have benefited the jazz musicians as well as the students, said Cassandra Kipp, the tribal member who organized the event. In the six years since Hampton started coming to Lapwai, the students' interest in learning music has grown, she said.

"It's amazing how much it has pumped up our music program," she said. "So many kids wanted to join, we had to go knock on doors to get more instruments."

Lionel Hampton Today




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