3. Intergenerational Practice of Jazz

Many Indiana jazz musicians were influenced by parents or other family members who were also musicians. Acquiring the skill to play an instrument and the dedication needed to aspire to a professional music career was envisioned as more than merely a job — it was often a family tradition that carried great mutual respect through the generations.

The Hampton family

Hampton Family Orchestra

The Hampton family was one of the most important Indianapolis jazz families representing the intergenerational practice of jazz. The family’s dedication, persistence and vision are enough to put Indianapolis on the national map of jazz alone. Clarke “Deacon” Hampton and his wife Laura reared twelve children, all of whom Deacon taught to play a variety of musical instruments or perform in some capacity on stage by the age of three. The Hamptons encountered harsh racism travelling through the Midwest, East Coast and American South during the late 1920s and the early 30s, but with few other options for African American entertainers during the era, Deacon ruled with an “iron fist” and determined that “the show must go on” at any cost. The regime included family rehearsal sessions sometimes lasting up to 10 hours a day and sending out sick children covered with makeup to perform on stage anyway. The Hamptons moved from Middletown, Ohio to Shelbyville, Indiana then to Indianapolis in 1938 and held lengthy engagements at Indianapolis’ Cotton Club and the Sunset Tavern . This was the early years of Indiana Avenue becoming an important center for jazz and African American businesses and the bustling developments on the Avenue had a profound effect on the Hampton children. In Indianapolis, the Hampton rehearsals became infamous and stretched into jam sessions where aspiring jazz musicians would stop by to participate or just listen in. Mother, Laura Hampton provided soft drinks for visitors and as a child, Paula Hampton (drummer and daughter of Aletra Hampton) turned the attraction into a mini business venture, occasionally charging entrance fees (Taborn 2009). When WWII broke out, the boys, who were old enough, joined the military service and “Deacon” retired from music performance but continued to work for the Hurst Company manufacturing rubber products for the defense industry. During this time, the girls formed their own rhythm and blues band and a singing group while they continued to hold day jobs. When the boys returned from service the siblings reunited and toured the East coast under the direction of multi-instrumentalist, Clarke, Jr. , aka Duke Hampton. Locksley “Slide” Hampton eventually became internationally renowned as a trombone player and an arranger (Kollath 2003; Hampton n.d.)

Albert (Al) Coleman, drummer, club owner, businessman

Albert Coleman

“A drummer is supposed to be felt, not heard.” (Al Coleman, restating the words of his father, Alvia Coleman, 2009)

Al Coleman held a prolific presence in Indiana jazz through his 50 year tenure in the jazz trio, The Three Souls (Coleman, drums; Will Scott, bass; Henry Cain, piano); his proprietorship of Al’s British Lounge on Indiana Avenue (1969-1975); ; several other businesses that he ran including a hotel and vending machine business that selling records of local jazz musicians, and the jazz educational programs that Al and his wife Anna Coleman ran at the Jacer Family Inn in Roachdale, Indiana.

Albert Coleman’s father, Alvia Coleman was also a drummer who played in a popular band of Crispus Attucks High school graduates formed around 1930. The band was named The Brown Buddies. Al recalls his father’s words that “A drummer is supposed to be felt, not heard”. In other words, a drummer’s role is to hold the tempo down and play a supportive roll for the entire ensemble.

The Three Souls

  • Audio: The Three Souls at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. (Recorded by Chuck Workman)
  • Jimmy Coe – alto saxophonist, arranger, band leader

    Jimmy Coe Big Band

    “I was born in Tompkinsville, Kentucky, on March 20, 1921. My parents weren’t into music too much, but I had a cousin who stayed with us. She was a 300-pounder and she could sing her butt off and sang around the house. That might be what started me liking music. Her name was Lottie Williams and she sang all kinds of music, pop tunes, gospel, all of it. My father, whose name was William McKinley Coe, played violin and he bought me a small violin, the three-quarter size.”
    (Jimmy Coe 2004, told to Dan Kochakian)

    Jimmy Coe is remembered for being a gifted saxophonist and arranger and for the outstanding bands that he led. During his lengthy career (c. 1937-2004) he wrote arrangements for numerous bands in a variety of music genres including the Kansas City-based, Jay McShann Band that also included Charlie Parker on alto saxophone. For a limited time, in 1942, Coe replaced Parker on alto sax. Coe was known for writing band arrangements while on the road, without the aid of instrumentation on scraps of paper en route to performances. During the last 10 years of his life Coe led his own big band, an Indianapolis group of stellar musicians. A family tradition of jazz musicianship is continued with Jimmy Coe’s sons, Earl Coe (drums) and Jimmy Jr. (trumpet). Jimmy Coe was influenced to become a musician from his cousin, Lottie Williams (vocalist). Coe was also influenced as an arranger and an instrumentalist by Crispus Attucks High school teacher, Norman Merrifield.

    Mingo Jones, bassist

    Mingo Jones

    Mingo’s father and uncle taught him his first instruments of the drums and trumpet. He later switched to his main instrument of the bass and has been active and in-demand in Indianapolis since the early 1950s.

    “My first instrument was trumpet and my dad was a trumpet player. He went to Jenkins School of Music in Kansas, MO. And my uncle Harry was a great musician … he went to school with [noted tenor saxophonist] Coleman Hawkins and everybody would say that uncle Harry would wear Coleman Hawkins out cause Harry could play bass, tenor and alto … all the saxes. When the war broke out and took up all my dad’s time he asked my uncle Harry to teach me who helped me [out] and he gave me a job playing with him on the weekends.” (Mingo Jones 2009)

    Click the link below to see an undated photo of Aletra Hampton, Mingo Jones and Virtue Hampton
    Aletra Hampton, Mingo Jones and Virtue Hampton


    6 Responses to “3. Intergenerational Practice of Jazz”

    1. […] 3. Intergenerational Practice of Jazz April 2010 5 […]

    2. Jimmy Coe also was the leader of the Rock & Roll band I had the pleasure of playing in when we recorded our stuff at “Chess Studios” in Chicago. A total of 17 songs were recorded using this same band.

      The band sonsisted of:

      Jimmy Coe (tenor sax)
      Pookie Johnson (alto sax)
      Henry Cain (grande piano)
      Earl (Fox) Walker (drums) also with Lionel Hampton
      Will Scott (stand up bass)
      Wes Montgomery (guitar)
      Ronnie Haig (guitar)
      These sessions were cut for “NOTE RECORDS” owned by Mel and Jerry Herman
      My record of “Don’t you hear me calling baby” Feb 1958
      started on “NOTE” then a month later was picked up by “ABC PARAMOUNT” out of NY City

    3. This particular post, “3. Intergenerational Practice of Jazz Indiana Avenue and Beyond” was outstanding.
      I am producing out a duplicate to present to my personal friends.
      Thank you-Sybil

    4. Reginald Du Valle, Sr. (piano and accordion) and Reginald Du Valle, Jr. (trumpet) would also fall into this category.

    5. Gerald N/A Chaney Says:

      Thank you for your historical facts. Do you have any info on Quicy L. Ayles, singer/pianist?

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