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Chico Hamilton

Chico Hamilton, a subtle and creative drummer, will probably always be remembered for the series of quintets that he led during 1955-1965 and for his ability as a talent scout than for his fine drumming. Hamilton first played drums while in high school with the many fine young players (including Dexter Gordon, Illinois Jacquet, and Charles Mingus) who were in Los Angeles at the time. He made his recording debut with Slim Gaillard, was house drummer at Billy Berg's, toured with Lionel Hampton, and served in the military (1942-1946). In 1946, Hamilton worked briefly with Jimmy Mundy, Count Basie, and Lester Young (recording with Young). He toured as Lena Horne's drummer (on and off during 1948-1955), and gained recognition for his work with the original Gerry Mulligan piano-less quartet (1952-1953).

In 1955, Hamilton put together his first quintet, a chamber jazz group with the reeds of Buddy Collette, guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Carson Smith, and cellist Fred Katz. One of the last important West Coast jazz bands, the Chico Hamilton Quintet was immediately popular and appeared in a memorable sequence in 1958's Jazz on a Summer's Day and the Hollywood film The Sweet Smell of Success. The personnel changed over the next few years (with Paul Horn and Eric Dolphy heard on reeds, cellist Nate Gershman, guitarists John Pisano and Dennis Budimir, and several bassists passing through the group) but it retained its unusual sound. By 1961, Charles Lloyd was on tenor and flute, Gabor Szabo was the new guitarist, and soon the cello was dropped in favor of trombone (Garnett Brown and later George Bohanon), giving the group an advanced hard bop style.

In 1966, Chico Hamilton started composing for commercials and the studios and he broke up his quintet. However, he continued leading various groups, playing music that ranged from the avant-garde to erratic fusion and advanced hard bop. Such up-and-coming musicians as Larry Coryell (1966), Steve Potts (1967), Arthur Blythe, Steve Turre (on bass, surprisingly), and Eric Person (who played in Hamilton's '90s group Euphoria) were among the younger players he helped discover. In 1989, Chico Hamilton had a recorded reunion with the original members of his 1955 quintet (with Pisano in Hall's place), and in the 1990s he made a number of records for Soul Note. He continued playing gigs and recording throughout the 2000s, releasing four albums in 2006 for the label Joyous Shout! in celebration of his 85th birthday. Chico Hamilton died in Manhattan on November 25, 2013; he was 92 years old. His last album, The Inquiring Mind, recorded shortly before his passing, was released in early 2014. ~ Scott Yanow
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: El Chico / The Further Adventures Of El Chico

1. El Chico

2. People

3. Marcheta

4. This Dream

5. Conquistadores

6. El Moors

7. Strange

8. Helena

9. Got My Mojo Working (But It Just Won't Work On You)

10. Who Can I Turn To

11. That Boy With That Long Hair

12. Daydream

13. The Shadow Of Your Smile

14. Evil Eye

15. Monday Monday

16. Manila

17. My Romance

18. Stella By Starlight

x

Track List: Live '55

1. Tea For Two

2. Walking Carson Blues

3. Cute Little Deal

4. A Mood

5. Fast Flute

6. Caravan

7. Buddy Boo

8. Spectacular

9. I'll Keep Loving You

10. Change It

11. I Want To Be Happy

12. Free Form

13. Crazy Rhythm

14. This Is Your Day

15. Stella By Starlight

x

Track List: Twelve Tones Of Love

1. Piece Of Music

2. Happiness Prevails

3. George

4. Nonchalant

5. Lazy Afternoon

6. Charlie Parker Suite

7. Penthouse A

8. On The Trail

9. Broadway

10. If You Can't Beat 'Em, Fight 'Em

11. Really Makes My Day

12. First Light

13. Raoul

14. Steinway

15. I Don't Know Why (I Just Do)

16. Lonely Woman

17. Brother Bob

18. Alto Of Kelso

x

Track List: Trio! Live @ Artpark

1. Ain't Nobody Calling Me (Live)

2. A Little After Twelve (Live)

3. First Light (Live)

4. These Are The Dues (Live)

5. Denise (Live)

6. Tickle Toe (Live)

7. Sculpture (Live)

8. C&C (Live)

x

Track List: It's About Time!

1. Cary

2. Autumn In New York

3. What If

4. Tone Poem In D

5. Nod To Gabor

6. Paul

7. 6/8 For Ch

8. Nuttye (For Jimmy)

x

Track List: The Alternate Dimensions Of Elchico Ep

1. Simple Timeless

2. Mysterious Maiden (Sf Reach Edit)

3. Je Ka Jo (Joaquin's Dream Version)

4. Mysterious Maiden (Yin & Yang Club)

5. El Toro (Mark De Clive-Lowe Remix)

6. Elevation

7. Jm Still Thirsty (Chico's Accordion Dub)

x

Track List: The Three Faces Of Chico

1. Miss Movement

2. She's Funny That Way

3. Trinkets

4. More Than You Know

5. The Best Things In Life Are Free

6. Where Or When

7. Happy Little Dance

8. Newport News

9. I Don't Know Why (I Just Do)

10. No Speak English, Man

x

Track List: Gongs East!

1. Beyond The Blue Horizon

2. Where I Live

3. Gongs East

4. I Gave My Love A Cherry

5. Good Grief

6. Long Ago (And Far Away)

7. Tuesday At Two

8. Nature By Emerson

9. Far East

10. Passion Flower

x

Track List: Nomad

1. Magic Fingers

2. Mysterious Maiden

3. Nomad

4. Alekasam

5. Denise

6. Strut

x

Track List: Hamiltonia

1. Chicano Heritage

2. Bones, No Meat

3. How's Your Feelings

4. Spring Again

5. My Brother Don

6. Lu Tu

7. I Hardly Knew Her At All

8. Arroyo

9. Mulligan Stew

10. A Little Bit Of This, A Little Bit Of That

11. One For Arnie

12. Believe In Him

13. Just Play The Melody

14. Jeffrey Andrew Caddick

15. Conquistadors 2007

x

Track List: 6th Avenue Romp

1. Cleo's Mood

2. You've Really Got A Hold On Me

3. Topsy

4. Ain't No Sunshine

5. Elevation

6. Take The A Train

7. Chicken Pox

8. Strollin' With Bone

9. Thunderwalk

10. I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)

11. Gotta Make Things Right

12. Cleo's Back

13. Ain't No Sunshine (Reprise)

14. I'm Still Thirsty (Chico's Accordion Dub)

x

Track List: Heritage

1. Chicano Heritage

2. Mulligan Stew

3. Viva Tirado

4. I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues

5. One For Hale

6. One For Gabor

7. Lu Tu

8. Love Me Or Leave Me

9. One For Lennie

10. One For Arnie

11. Blues For Yna Yna

12. Something To Live For

13. Yard Dog Marzurka

14. Denise (Jeremy Carlstedt Funk Variation)

x

Track List: Juniflip

1. Mr. Hamilton

2. A Little Bit Of This, A Little Bit Of That

3. Ain't She Sweet

4. Yeh Yeh (For Carlos Santana)

5. How's Your Feelings

6. You Name It

7. Don't Be That Way

8. Cary's Footsteps

9. (If You Think You're) Groovy

10. What's Your Story, Morning Glory?

11. Without Love, Nothing Matters

12. Just Play The Melody

13. Kerry's Caravan

x

Track List: Believe

1. Evan's-Ville

2. Love Me A Long, Long Time

3. My Brother Don

4. Christina

5. Bones, No Meat

6. Alive

7. Baby Won

8. My Brother Bernie

9. Arroyo

10. Andrewmatic

11. The Kids Are Alright

12. Believe In Him

13. Ballad For Mallets

14. Strut (Joey Davis Redux)

x

Track List: Thoughts Of

1. Thoughts Of Miles (Feat. Ghostface)

2. Angel Eyes

3. Thoughts Of Prez (Feat. Kira)

4. Space For Stacy (Feat. Kurupt)

5. Pj

6. People

7. Je Ka Jo (Feat. AZ)

8. Mother Tucker

9. Could Be

10. Spring Again

11. Rusty Dusty Blues

12. Thoughts Of Trane

13. Bull-Rush

x

Track List: The Original Ellington Suite (Single)

1. In A Mello Tone

2. In A Sentimental Mood

3. I'm Just A Lucky So And So

4. Just A-Sittin' And A-Rockin'

5. Everything But You

6. Day Dream

7. I'm Beginning To See The Light

8. Azure

9. It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)

x

Track List: The Dealer

1. The Dealer

2. For Mods Only

3. A Trip

4. Baby, You Know

5. Larry Of Arabia

6. Thoughts

7. Jim- Jeannie

8. Chic Chic Chico

9. Big Noise From Winnetka

10. The Second Time Around

11. El Toro

x

Track List: Man From Two Worlds (Reissue)

1. Man From Two Worlds (December 11, 1963)

2. Blues Medley (December 11, 1963)

3. Forest Flower (December 11, 1963)

4. Child's Play (December 11, 1963)

5. Blues For O.T. (December 11, 1963)

6. Mallet Dance (December 11, 1963)

7. Love Song To A Baby (December 11, 1963)

x

Track List: Man From Two Worlds

1. Man From Two Worlds

2. Blues Medley

3. Forest Flower

4. Childs Play

5. Blues For O.T.

6. Mallet Dance

7. Love Song To A Baby

9. Transfusion

10. Lady Gabor

11. Lonesome Child

x

Track List: The Chico Hamilton Trio

1. Blues On The Rocks

2. Street Of Drums

3. We'll Be Together Again

4. Skinned Strings

5. Nuttye

6. Porch Light

7. Broadway

9. Uganda

10. Lollypop

Comments

Report as inappropriate
All explorers, and you. Goodbye Chico.
Report as inappropriate
mjtownley
Chico Hamilton - drums, percussion, vocal on #6; Larry Coryell - electric guitar; Arnie Lawrence - alto saxophone, except #5; Richard Davis - bass

Featuring:

Archie Shepp - piano on #2; Ernie Hayes - organ on #4 and #5
Report as inappropriate
Chico will always live in the heart and soul of music
Report as inappropriate
Chico, we will miss you.
Report as inappropriate
Love your music Chico!
Report as inappropriate
Chico muthaeffin Halmiton!!!! !
Report as inappropriate
compliancedi r e c t i v e s
Does anyone know if "El Chico" has ever been released on CD? I had the LP that included artists Sadao and Gabor. My favorite cuts include People, Strange and Helena. Thanks, Ed from Florida.
Report as inappropriate
Chico Hamilton brings all aspects of jazz music together for me. His experience and broad exposure to many great artists shows up in his music.
Report as inappropriate
In 1958 Chico discovered Eric Dolphy, first session using Dolphy was on Warner Bros. With Strings Attached, Chico is one of my favorite and first influences on the drums. His first album as a leader soon after he left Gerry Mulligan was a 10" Lp on Pacific Jazz Records 17 The Chico Hamilton Trio with Howard Roberts and George Duvivier, Chico would do more recording with his different groups on the label. He still performs and teaches part time and is the oldest surviving Jazz Drummer at 88.
Report as inappropriate
Hamilton, like only a few other percussionis t s , sets and controls the whole momentum of a piece. From the "background" he directs the "stars" up front.

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