For over 50 years at the University of Idaho, the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival has brought jazz masters together with elementary, junior high, high school and college students to share and celebrate a truly American art form of music. The Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival has grown from a one-day event to an amazing four-day experience! The first University of Idaho Jazz Festival took place in 1967, with a dozen student groups and one guest artist. The Festival continued to grow from there – erupting onto the national stage in 1981, when students and spectators packed in to hear Ella Fitzgerald.
In 1984, the Festival’s most important relationship took shape when Lionel Hampton joined the excitement in Moscow. Inspired by the enthusiasm of the students, Hamp pledged his support to the Festival and in 1985, the Festival took on his name. Now having hosted thousands upon thousands of students, spectators, and artists – including Doc Severinsen, Bobby McFerrin, Sarah Vaughn, Dizzy Gillespie, The Manhattan Transfer, and countless musicians from around the world – the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival is four outstanding days of student performances, workshops, clinics and remarkable world-class evening concerts.
As the Festival enters its fifth decade, it will continue to further Hamp’s vision and legacy for perpetuating jazz music education for generations to come. With John Clayton’s great ability to educate and his love for Hamp, the Festival is in good hands and is moving forward at an incredible rate.