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The Good Vibrations of Lionel Hampton

September 04, 2002

Re "Virtuoso on the Vibraphone, One of the Last Giants of Jazz," Sept. 1: It was during a trip from Hoboken, N.J., aboard the Rijndam in December 1956 that I met Lionel Hampton. I was in the Palm Court of the ocean liner when, after the dance, Mr. Hampton took a seat at the bar next to me while his band was engaged in a jam session. I was a young man then, finishing my studies in Europe, but he took time to engage me in many conversations during the six-day journey.

On the eve of the arrival in Rotterdam, he wrote me an inspiring note, which I still hold dear, and signed it, "To Ben, from your friend Lionel Hampton." Soon after, he left his bar stool and told me: "Watch, Ben, I'm gonna do my trick," whereupon he jumped upon the big drum and did his dance. Good vibes, wherever you are, my friend. I will remember you fondly.

Ben Kramer

Chino

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