Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival – Musicians

Every year, around the end of February, over 300 schools attend one of the most famous Jazz Festivals in the world, located in… Moscow, Idaho? Even though most people have never heard of it, this college town of Moscow is the home of the University of Idaho, who as hosted the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival for almost forty years.

The festival began in 1967, when University professor David Seiler hosted a one-day event that included trumpet player Buddy Brisboe. It quickly became a new tradition at the University, and had over 3,000 attendees by 1980. A U of I alumni and member of Hampton’s Big Band convinced Lionel to come to the festival in 1984. Lionel was quite impressed, and he found what Jazz was missing: a way for jazz artists to teach their knowledge to young people. The festival was named after him the following year, and Hamp made personal appearances up until his death in 2002. Hampton’s legacy is alive at the University, and the Music Building is named for him.

The festival has grown into a huge community event that packs the hotels every year. Guests throughout the years have included such jazz giants as Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Doc Severinsen, Diana Krall, and Wynton Marsalis. The music event is now a four daylong workshop event, with greats of Jazz sharing the stage with music students from around the country and world. The Festival for February 21-24, 2007, celebrates its 40th anniversary.