Hamp & Doc
“Doc” Skinner and the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival
Hamp & Doc is packed with previously unheard stories about some of the biggest names in jazz (Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Hank Jones, and many more), rare photos from Skinner’s personal collection, a behind-the-scenes look at his thirty-one years directing the festival, and inspiring anecdotes about his early life as a musical prodigy growing up in a loving Mormon family in southern Idaho. But most of all, Hamp & Doc is a celebration.
To know Lynn “Doc” Skinner, is to love him. How could one not love a man whose infectious enthusiasm has inspired thousands of students, teachers, and audiences alike to expand their knowledge and understanding of jazz?
At a Glance
- Hamp & Doc
- “Doc” Skinner and the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival
- Page Count
- Trim Size
- 6″ × 9″
- Page Count
- Trim Size
- 6″ × 9″
If ever I met an angel, it’s Doc Skinner.
About the Book
Music and magic came together in Moscow, Idaho when jazz legend Lionel Hampton fell in love with music educator Lynn “Doc” Skinner’s idea: let students from remote areas of the country come to the University of Idaho’s jazz festival and learn directly from the greats.
With only that dream, the two men went on to grow what had been a modest annual event into a world-class celebration of music, education, love, and life—developing a deep and profound friendship. That accomplishment is at the heart of Hamp & Doc: “Doc” Skinner and the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival—Skinner’s memoir, as told to Alan Solan, former arts and entertainment editor at the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, who covered the festival for many years.
Hamp & Doc is packed with previously unheard stories about some of the biggest names in jazz (Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Hank Jones, and many more), rare photos from Skinner’s personal collection, a behind-the-scenes look at his thirty-one years directing the festival, and inspiring anecdotes about his early life as a musical prodigy growing up in a loving Mormon family in southern Idaho. But most of all, Hamp & Doc is a celebration. Skinner and Hampton created an unforgettable experience for hundreds of thousands of students, many of whom went on to become renowned musicians in their own right. At last, there is a fitting testament to this incredible legacy.
The Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho, has been one of the most important events in the history of jazz for its musicality and amazing scope. Hundreds of significant jazz musicians have appeared there. Thanks to Lynn 'Doc' Skinner, its creator, director, 'chief arranger' and inspiration to the next generation, the festival is still vibrantly in existence.
Chapter 16 A Tribute to Jazz Itself
Sarah Vaughan was very proud of the festival being named in honor of her friend. She wanted to come back one more time to perform with Hamp, but she had cancer. I talked to her manager, and he was very kind, but he told me Sarah was not strong enough to perform. Later, I was told Sarah’s last words were, “I just wanted to perform once more with Hamp at his jazz festival in Idaho.”
In the coming years, Hamp would call me at home—sometimes at two thirty or three in the morning—full of excitement and energy, bursting with ideas about the festival and performers he wanted to bring in. It was amazing to see how he was so connected to the whole jazz network.
When the festival was named for Lionel Hampton, the jazz world and jazz artists felt that for someone to finally name a festival for a jazz artist was not just a tribute to Lionel Hampton—it was a tribute to jazz itself. For a university to have a festival named for a jazz artist was a big-time change. When I was going to school at Utah State University in the late 1950s and early 1960s, it was almost like jazz had a bad name. In those days, a lot of us learned about jazz by playing and listening to it together. You couldn’t even take a class in it. You could do the jazz band, but couldn’t get credit for it. You tried out, you were in it, but there was no credit. So what we did at the University of Idaho was really a major change in how people looked at jazz education and the importance of jazz.
To students, I think the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival says this music is valuable enough that a place has been created where the greatest artists in the world come to help make a difference in the lives of young musicians. The festival changed the lives of thousands and thousands of people. The students who came to the festival started to understand music’s power to elevate the soul to new heights—a power that we don’t even understand. That was Hamp’s life. It is my life. That’s why I think we had such an incredible friendship. We both understood the power of music. We loved the music, and we loved the people who created it.
Hamp took an active role in the festival right from the start, and the list of artists he introduced to the festival over the years is astounding: Ray Brown, Milt Hinton, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Ernestine Anderson, Betty Carter, Jon Faddis, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Carmen McRae, Benny Golson, Art Farmer, Al Grey, Pete and Conte Candoli, Terence Blanchard, Clark Terry, Wallace Roney, Freddie Hubbard, Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Barron, Cedar Walton, George Mraz, and many, many more.
The student competitions and the artist’s workshops expanded and took on new meaning. Later, our Jazz in the Schools program began introducing world-class jazz to elementary school students throughout the region. Hamp also took an active role in developing scholarships to the university’s music school.
Hamp and I talked frequently—often about the festival, but as we became friends, we also discussed our families, lives, and hopes. His passion for education—for developing talent in others—kept coming through.