Slide Hampton's distinguished career spans decades in the evolution of jazz. At the age of 12 he was already touring the Midwest with the Indianapolis-based Hampton Band, led by his father and comprising other members of his musical family. By 1952, at the age of 20, he was performing at Carnegie Hall with the Lionel Hampton Band. He then joined Maynard Ferguson's band, playing trombone and providing exciting charts on such popular tunes as "The Fugue," "Three Little Foxes," and "Slide's Derangement."
As his reputation grew, he soon began working with bands led by Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Barry Harris, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, and Max Roach, again contributing both original compositions and arrangements. In 1962, he formed the Slide Hampton Octet, which included stellar horn players Booker Little, Freddie Hubbard, and George Coleman. The band toured the U.S. and Europe and recorded on several labels.
From 1964 to 1967, he served as music director for various orchestras and artists. Then, following a 1968 tour with Woody Herman, he elected to stay in Europe, performing with other expatriates such as Benny Bailey, Kenny Clarke, Kenny Drew, Art Farmer, and Dexter Gordon. Upon returning to the U.S. in 1977, he began a series of master classes at Harvard, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, De Paul University in Chicago, and Indiana University. During this period he formed the illustrious World of Trombones: an ensemble of nine trombones and a rhythm section.
Slide Hampton's countless collaborations with the most prominent musicians of jazz were acknowledged by the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Arrangement with a Vocalist.
The 1990's were spent doing an enormous volume of work. He continued to develop the Slide Hampton Quartet and Quintet, toured the world with the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars, was a special advisor and arranger for the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and arranged numerous recording projects around the world.
2006 saw the debut of Slide's own Big Band..."Slide Hampton(TM) Ultra Big Band". The band will soon record a new CD of original compositions that will set the standard of what Big Band is all about. Four of the songs slated for inclusion on the CD are; "Mandela", "Oprah", "Tiger" and "Venus & "Serena" with more original works nearing completion. The CD will surely be the best work Slide has done to date. These four songs contain lyrics co-written by Slide and Tony Charles. Other honoress are: Thelonious Monk ('Round Midnight), Thad Jones (One for Thad, Eddie Harris (Freedom Jazz Dance) and Gil Evans (Gil).