256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Sunset SUS-5215
Alright skins heads, we told you the Give The Drummer Some! series would be irregularly reoccurring on Soundological and we meant it. We're already dipping into our second percussionist feature in less than a month's time. Why the rush? Well, today's a special occasion - it's Chico Hamilton's 87th birthday!
As usual, we'll be dropping back-to-back-to-back posts of the featured artist and throw in some extra goodies along the way. Unfortunately since I only just learned his DOB a few days ago, this GTDS will be brief compared to the man's immense output in over 50 years of active recording - and he's still gigging! In fact, if you're anywhere near Ithaca, NY **TONIGHT** you can catch a free concert he's giving for his b-day! Chico is the man, make no mistake about it!
For the full 411 on his long career, check out the pages dedicated to him on his management company's website, which has a huge amount of biographical info and Chico-related links all over the place. For a teaser on the man, here's Chico's rundown on AMG by Scott Yarrow:
Chico Hamilton, a subtle and creative drummer, will probably always be better known 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 Summmer'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 Gersham, 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.
Breakin' it down on NBC's "Talking Jazz" in '97
Although released in 1965, this collection is drawn from the late 50s period on Pacific as the West Coast Cool sound was being defined. Time is tight, so we're foregoing the research to determine the exact personnel for each track (the liner notes are paltry by any standard, even for a budget subsidiary like Sunset) but the line up listed below includes all players appearing on this compilation.
Chico Hamilton - Drums
Jim Hall - Guitar
Howard Roberts - Guitar
John Pisano - Guitar
Paul Horn - Sax
Buddy Collette - Sax
Bill Perkins - Sax
Eric Dolphy - Sax
Percy Heath - Bass
George Duvivier - Bass
Ben Tucker - Bass
Carson Smith - Bass
Freddy Gambrell - Piano
1 Lullabye Of The Leaves [Introducing the Piano of Freddy Gambrell JP-1242]
2 These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You) [Introducing the Piano of Freddy Gambrell JP-1242]
3 Taking A Chance On Love
4 Easy Living [Bill Perkins Quintet - 2 Degrees East, 3 Degrees West JP-1217]
7 Porch Light [Chico Hamilton Trio JP-1220]
8 Autumn Landscape [Chico Hamilton Trio JP-1220]
9 Satin Doll
Most of the recordings here have been made available by Mosaic recently on The Complete Pacific Jazz Recordings of The Chico Hamilton Quintet except for those noted above. Besides the track by the Bill Perkins Quintet (which was basically the Chico Quint with Bill as leader) the others are by the Chico Hamilton Trio. The eponymous Chico Hamilton Trio from 1957 has also been reissued this year by Lone Hill but the material with Freddy Gambrell has not and is only available on the original albums or this compilation.
Poor Freddy Gambrell. Not only was he completely snubbed from the notes, he was just all-out snubbed by the looks of it. In Ted Gioia & William Claxton's book West Coast: Modern Jazz in California, 1945-1960 he only rates one throwaway line in regard to his contribution to Chico's team and jazz in general: "Pianist Freddy Gambrell was simply not strong enough a soloist to sustain the new band." Ouch. Well, gotta say after listening to his tinkling of the ivories on "Lullabye of the Leaves" I can't really argue with history.
More Chico on the way in the next couple days but for now Soundological makes Easy Livin' even easier HERE or HERE.