RESERVATIONS: (313) 882-5299
Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe Logo
A Perfectly Tuned Evening Every Time...
Opened in 2008, The Dirty Dog is one of the premiere destinations in the United States for world class Jazz and cuisine. It combines the charm of an English-style pub with intimacy and meticulous attention to detail and hospitality.
The Dirty Dog brings together the musicians and guests in a way that creates a lasting impression and desire to come back.
April 6, 2020

Jazz Vibes


LionelHamptonAnd HisOrch



Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra /  Lionel Hampton, the greatest vibraphonist of them all / born April 20, 1908 in Louisville, Kentucky.  He was also a drummer, pianist, percussionist, band leader and actor.



Aside from the instrumental stand-bys such as the saxophone, trumpet, bass, piano and drums, musicians over the years have brought a wide array of instruments to the Jazz idiom including ancient and traditional instruments from various cultures including percussion, violins, harps and even bagpipes.



One such instrument is the vibraphone, also known as the vibraharp or simply the “vibes”. Although it was invented around 1920, this electrically powered instrument is related to the balafon and marimbas, which have ancient roots in Central Africa going back nearly a millennium.



The Balafon


The balafon was created in Central Africa in the 12th century. It has wooden slats or keys that rest on top of gourded resonators. The marimba’s ancestor is a type of balafon that African slaves built in Central America around the 16th centuries and was used by the Mayans in festivals and religious ceremonies.



These instruments were actually early keyboards and influenced the creation of the piano, xylophone and other melodically based percussion instruments.



The vibraphone’s sound comes from tuned metal bars or slats that are struck with felt or wool mallets that make its soft, mellow tone quality. Suspended vertically below each bar is a tubular resonator that sustains the tone when the bar is struck.


The special feature that gives the vibraphone its name, are small, electrical fans below the bars that cause a vibrato effect by opening and closing the resonators. A pedal-controlled felt damper, can silence the bars, permitting the playing of short notes and sustained chords. Changing the speed of the vibrato, or using hard mallets are other ways to alter tone quality of the vibraphone.



The vibraphone was first used to add novelty sound effects in vaudeville orchestras and early films. This was soon overpowered by its popularity in Jazz in the 1930s – the idiom where it is mostly used to this day. Louis Armstrong was attracted to its sound around 1929, however it was Lionel Hampton, (1908-2002), who is most associated with the instrument. He was a popular drummer and pianist who noticed the vibraphone back stage at the NBC studios where it was used for the NBC chimes on the radio. It was love at first sight.



“Hamp” became the vibes’ biggest “star”, playing the instrument on stage and in films with such notables as Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Charlie Parker, Quincy Jones, as well as in his own bands. He had a prolific career and still performed well into his 80’s.



The Dirty Dog Jazz Café has recently hosted many world-class, award-winning vibraphonists including the amazing Roy Ayers as well as Jason Marsalis, Warren Wolf, and others.


Other significant Jazz vibraphonists have  included Cal Tjader, Red Norvo, Tito Puente, Terry Gibbs, Stefon Harris, Dave Samuels, and the Grammy-winning, Mack Avenue recording artist, Gary Burton.



Some important vibes players from Detroit include the legendary Milt Jackson of the Modern Jazz Quartet, Terry Pollard, and Jack Brokensha, among others.



Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM. She made her mark at WDET 101.9FM where she was program director and daily on-air music host for more than 30 years.


Share This Article:

Visit the Dirty Dog Jazz Channel on YouTube to view our collection of videos. Watch Now
The Dirty Dog brings together the musicians and guests in a way that creates a lasting impression and desire to come back.
  An ancient trumpet from 2,000 B.C.   Jazz Notes with Judy Adams/  Jazz Trumpets Lead th [..]
  The Dirty Dog Jazz Café will remain closed until our jazz family can again safely gather in [..]
  The Dirty Dog Jazz Café will remain closed until our jazz family can again safely gather in [..]
Each week the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe hosts live performances from the greatest jazz musicians across the country.