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NEA Jazz Master Chico Hamilton Dead At 92

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Chico Hamilton Jazz Legend Chico Hamilton Dead at 92

“I'm happy to say that I'm able to find people wherever I go that are not black, not white- they're just human beings. I don't dig staying in one groove. At this stage of my life, I've dedicated myself to playing what I want to play, how I want to play it, for the rest of my time. Regardless of whether one might like it or one might not like it. That's where I am, where I've been and where I intend to stay.” —Foreststorn “Chico" Hamilton

Legendary drummer and NEA Jazz Master Foreststorn “Chico" Hamilton died on Monday, November 25, 2013, in New York City at the age of 92.

Born September 20th, 1921 in Los Angeles, Hamilton had a fast track musical education in a band with his high school classmates and future jazz legends Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
1922 - 1979
bass, acoustic
, Illinois Jacquet
Illinois Jacquet
Illinois Jacquet
1922 - 2004
sax, tenor
, Ernie Royal
Ernie Royal
b.1921
, Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
1923 - 1990
sax, tenor
, Buddy Collette
Buddy Collette
Buddy Collette
1921 - 2010
sax, tenor
and Jackie Kelso
Jackie Kelso
b.1922
sax, alto
. Engagements with Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton
1908 - 2002
vibraphone
, Slim & Slam, T-Bone Walker, Lester Young
Lester Young
Lester Young
1909 - 1959
saxophone
, Count Basie
Count Basie
Count Basie
1904 - 1984
piano
, Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
, Charlie Barnett, Billy Eckstine
Billy Eckstine
Billy Eckstine
1914 - 1993
vocalist
, Nat "King" Cole
Nat
Nat "King" Cole
1919 - 1965
piano
, Sammy Davis Jr.
Sammy Davis Jr.
Sammy Davis Jr.
1925 - 1990
vocalist
, Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
1915 - 1959
vocalist
, Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
1927 - 1996
sax, baritone
and Lena Horne
Lena Horne
Lena Horne
1917 - 2010
vocalist
established Hamilton as a jazz drummer on the rise.

Hamilton began leading his own ensembles in 1955 and recorded 60+ albums as a leader. Hamilton’s impact upon jazz included the introduction of two unique and distinct sounds: first in 1955 with his “Original Quintet” which combined the sounds of his drums, the bass of Carson Smith
Carson Smith
b.1931
, the guitar of Jim Hall
Jim Hall
Jim Hall
1930 - 2013
guitar
, the cello of Fred Katz, and the flute of Buddy Collette; and the second in 1962 with his own drums, the bass of Albert Stinson, the guitar of Gabor Szabo
Gabor Szabo
Gabor Szabo
1936 - 1982
guitar
, the trombone of George Bohanon, and the tenor sax of Charles Lloyd
Charles Lloyd
Charles Lloyd
b.1938
saxophone
.

Hamilton appeared in the 1941 film “You'll Never Get Rich” staring Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire
1899 - 1987
vocalist
, and his ensemble was prominently featured in the 1957 film noir classic “Sweet Smell of Success” starring Tony Curtis & Burt Lancaster. Hamilton's mallet driven performance of “Blue Sands" was a featured moment in the 1959 Newport Jazz Festival documentary “Jazz on a Summer's Day", and Hamilton composed the soundtrack for Roman Polanski’s English- language debut, the 1965 psychological thriller “Repulsion” starring Catherine Deneuve. Hamilton moved to New York City in 1965 and formed a commercial and film music production company, scoring the television film “Portrait of Willie Mays", the popular children's series “Gerald McBoing-Boing", and working on Madison Avenue scoring hundreds of commercials for TV and radio.

In 1987 Hamilton helped to found the New School University Jazz & Contemporary Music Program in New York City, where his students included members of Blues Traveler and The Spin Doctors. Hamilton enjoyed a renaissance in his later years, beginning in 1989 when he established yet another unique and distinct sound in jazz debuting his Euphoria ensemble with which he toured extensively in the US, Canada, Europe and South America. Hamilton recorded frequently in recent years, including a string of 10 + recordings for the Joyous Shout! label with guest appearances from the likes of Love front-man Arthur Lee, vocalist and successful actor Bill Henderson, trombonist George Bohanon, bass trombonist Jimmy Cheatham, rhythm & blues vocalist Fontella Bass, guitarist Shuggie Otis
Shuggie Otis
b.1953
, trumpeter Jon Faddis, percussionist Jaimoe
Jaimoe
Jaimoe
b.1944
drums
of the Allman Brothers Band
Allman Brothers Band
Allman Brothers Band

band/orchestra
, and vocalist Jose James
Jose James
Jose James
b.1978
vocalist
.

Hamilton’s ensembles were a breading ground for talent, with Paul Horn
Paul Horn
Paul Horn
1930 - 2014
flute
, Eric Dolphy
Eric Dolphy
Eric Dolphy
1928 - 1964
reeds
, Ron Carter
Ron Carter
Ron Carter
b.1937
bass
, Gabor Szabo, Charles Lloyd, Larry Coryell
Larry Coryell
Larry Coryell
b.1943
guitar
and Arthur Blythe
Arthur Blythe
Arthur Blythe
b.1940
sax, alto
and countless others having made their names with Hamilton, and a wide array of musicians credit Hamilton and his music as an influence, including Carlos Santana, Charlie Watts
Charlie Watts
Charlie Watts
b.1941
drums
, Joe Claussell, Jose James, Mark de Clive-Lowe and Thievery Corporation.

Saluted by the Kennedy Center as a “Living Jazz Legend”, and appointed to the President’s Council on the Arts, this recipient of a NEA Jazz Master fellowship was considered one of the most important jazz artists and composers, creating vivid, positive, uplifting, engaging & relevant music until the end of his life. This past October Hamilton recorded newly composed material with his long-standing Euphoria ensemble, with Paul Ramsey on bass, Evan Schwam on flute, baritone, tenor, alto & soprano saxophones, Jeremy Carlstedt on drums, Mayu Saeki on flute & Nick Demopolous on guitar, along with featured guest appearances from trombonist George Bohanon and fellow NEA Jazz Master trumpeter Jimmy Owens, for his The Inquiring Mind CD to be released on Joyous Shout! in early-2014.

A monthly concert series Euphoria Presents “Celebrating the Life & Music of Foreststorn “Chico" Hamilton” continues on December 15th @ 7:15 PM @ DROM, 85 Avenue A (b/w 5th & 6th Streets) in the East Village, New York City, Tel 212.777.1157, dromNYC.com. Cover $12 advance, $15 day of show.
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