Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Chico Hamilton 1921-2013

I just read another of those bits of news you never want to hear. Drummer Chico Hamilton has just passed away at the age of 92.

Hamilton was a Los Angeles native who came up in that city's 1940's jazz scene.  As a leader in the 1950's he led a quintet that became emblematic of the West Coast "cool" scene, using guitar, flute and cello to create a dreamy, exotic texture unlike anything else at the time. His work would evolve over the years as he absorbed the sounds of hard bop, jazz-rock and funk into later groups.  He was one of those bandleaders who brought an astonishing amount of talent to attention.  Buddy Collette, Jim Hall, John Pisano, Fred Katz, Eric Dolphy, Gabor Sazbo, Larry Coryell, Charles Lloyd, Arthur Blythe and Eric Persson are just some of the musicians he worked with early in their careers. Lloyd's classic "Forest Flower" was first heard on Hamilton's Man from Two Worlds album.

Here is Hamilton's quintet at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival with Eric Dolphy on flute playing "Blue Sands" in an excerpt from the classic film Jazz on a Summer's Day:

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