RIP: Jazz Great Chico Hamilton Dead at 92

The drummer and bandleader Chico Hamilton, a cornerstone of the modern West Coast jazz scene of the 1950s, died yesterday (Monday, November 25, 2013) in Manhattan.

“Hamilton had a subtle and melodic approach that made him ideally suited for the refined, understated style that came to be known as cool jazz, of which his hometown, Los Angeles, was the epicenter,” jazz expert Peter Keepnews wrote in the New York Times today.

“He was a charter member of the baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan’s quartet,” Keepnews wrote, “which helped lay the groundwork for the cool movement. His own quintet, which he formed shortly after leaving the Mulligan group, came to be regarded as the quintessence of cool. With its quiet intensity, its intricate arrangements and its uniquely pastel instrumentation of flute, guitar, cello, bass and drums — the flutist, Buddy Collette, also played alto saxophone — the Chico Hamilton Quintet became one of the most popular groups in jazz.”

Musicians who passed through Hamilton’s group included bassist Ron Carter, the saxophonists Eric Dolphy and Charles Lloyd and the guitarists Jim Hall, Gabor Szabo and Larry Coryell.

For more, check out the obits in the New York Times and the L.A. Times.

“The Wind,” 1956

Buddy Collette (alto sax)
Fred Katz (cello)
Jim Hall (guitar)
Carson Smith (bass)
Chico Hamilton (drums)

“Blue Sands,” 1955

Bass – Carson Smith
Cello – Fred Katz
Drums – Chico Hamilton
Guitar – Jim Hall
Reeds – Buddy Collette

“Lady Gabor, 1962

Chico Hamilton: drums
Charles Lloyd : tenor sax and flute
George Bohanon : trombone
Gabor Szabo : guitar
Albert Stinson : bass

“The Dealer,” 1966

Arnie Lawrence : alto saxophone
Larry Coryell : guitar
Richard Davis : bass
Chico Hamilton : drums , percussion
Jimmy Cheatham : arranger

— A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post —

About Michael Goldberg

Michael Goldberg is a distinguished pioneer in the online music space; Newsweek magazine called him an ‘Internet visionary.’ In 1994 he founded Addicted To Noise (ATN), the highly influential music web site. He was a senior vice-president and editor in chief at SonicNet from March 1997 through May 2000. In 1997, Addicted To Noise won Webby awards for best music site in 1998 and 1999, and also won Yahoo Internet Life! awards for three years running as best music site in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Prior to starting Addicted To Noise, Goldberg was an editor and senior writer at Rolling Stone magazine for 10 years. His writing has also appeared in Wired, Esquire, Vibe, Details, Downbeat, NME and numerous other publications. Michael has had three novels published that comprise the "Freak Scene Dream trilogy": "True Love Scars," "The Flowers Lied" and "Untitled" which can be ordered here. His new book, "Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey," can be pre-ordered from HoZac Books. In November Backbeat Books will publish "Addicted To Noise: The Music Writings of Michael Goldberg," which can be be pre-ordered here.

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