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Darius Hampton

Darius Hampton is a musician and music educator based in Chicago. Hampton began playing professionally at age 15 when he performed at the Indianapolis Jazz Festival of 1999 with the Hampton Family Reunion Jazz Band. From that point on, he grew increasingly active and accomplished as a musician. He completed both his undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, ultimately earning his Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies. There, he studied the saxophone with Charles “Chip” McNeill and Ron Bridgewater.


After graduation, Hampton began his career with the administrative team of the Chicago Jazz Ensemble (CJE) in residence at Columbia College Chicago. He joined as the Music Library Manager before his role was expanded to include being the Education Director about a year later. In this role, Hampton developed programs and opportunities for various communities — including K-12 schools in Chicago, Columbia College and general audiences — to learn from the musicians of the CJE and its special guest performers. At the same time, Hampton supported the performing ensemble and worked closely world-renowned artists, composers and arrangers to realize the artistic vision for dozens of productions. After he had been with the organization about five years, the CJE was disbanded. Hampton shifted to another department of Columbia College: the Center for Community Arts Partnerships (CCAP). Here, for another two years, he continued some of his work carried over from the CJE while also helping to develop and support new and existing CCAP programs.


Hampton departed Columbia in 2014 and explored a number of opportunities as an performer and educator for the next several years. During this time, he intensified his work as a freelance performer. He made his first recording as a leader, Hear Me, which was released in 2015. He worked with ensembles of many kinds, including Tom Tom Washington’s South Side Big Band, and worked often as a studio musician. He also extended his work as an educator. He served as a teaching artist with many local organizations, such as Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) Advanced Arts Education Program, Asociacion Nacional de Musica Latino Americana, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras and the Jazz Institute of Chicago (JIC).


In 2019, Hampton joined the faculty of Northwestern University as a Lecturer in the Jazz Studies department lead at the time by Victor Goines. As the assistant director of the Northwestern University Jazz Orchestra and conductor of one of the jazz small ensembles, Hampton endeavors to impart his breadth of experiences in the jazz realm to developing jazz artists. Hampton played in the band of the Porchlight Music Theater 2020 production of Sophisticated Ladies and 2022 production of Blues in the Night. He also joins the band of the Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre for certain productions. In 2021-2022, he taught at CPS All-City Performing Arts and the Chicago Center for Music Education. After having an ongoing association with the organization since his time with the CJE, Hampton formally joined the Jazz Institute of Chicago as Managing Director of Education in 2022. At the JIC, Hampton oversees a jazz band festival, artist residencies in city schools, initiatives for artist development and more!


During his career, Hampton is humbled and honored to have worked with internationally-recognized artists such as Slide Hampton (Darius’ great-uncle), Jon Faddis, Victor Goines, Wycliffe Gordon, Dana Hall, Frank Foster, Garnett Brown, Miguel Zenon, Etienne Charles, Randy Weston, Paquito D’Rivera, Tom Tom Washington and many others. Darius Hampton is currently the Director of Education and Artist Development at the Jazz Institute of Chicago and a Jazz Ensemble Director at Northwestern University.


Darius Hampton exclusively plays P. Mauriat Saxophones

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On the Scene with Darius Hampton