You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your ReverbNation experience.

Chico Hamilton / Bio

Legendary jazz drummer and bandleader Foreststorn Chico Hamilton,
born September 20th, 1921 in Los Angeles, had a fast track musical
education in a band with his schoolmates Charles Mingus, Illinois
Jacquet, Ernie Royal, Dexter Gordon, Buddy Collette and Jack Kelso.
Engagements with Lionel Hampton, Slim & Slam, T-Bone Walker, Lester
Young, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Charlie Barnett, Billy Eckstine,
Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr., Billie Holiday, Gerry Mulligan and
six years with Lena Horne established this young West Coast prodigy
as a jazz drummer on the rise, before striking out on his own as a
bandleader in 1955.

Chico’s impact upon jazz includes 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, the
guitar of Jim Hall, 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, the tenor sax of Charles
Lloyd, and the trombone of George Bohanon.

In 1997, Chico received the New School University Jazz & Contemporary
Music Programs Beacons in Jazz Award in recognition for
his "significant contribution to the evolution of Jazz". In 2002,
Chico was awarded the WLIU-FM Radio Lifetime Achievement Award. At
the IAJE in NYC January 2004, Hamilton was awarded a NEA Jazz Master
Fellowship, presented to him by Roy Haynes. In December 2006,
Congress confirmed the President’s nomination of Chico to the
Presidents Council on the Arts. And in 2007, Chico received a Living
Legacy Jazz Award as part of The Kennedy Centers Jazz in Our Time
Festival, as well as receiving a Doctor of Fine Arts from The New
School. Dynamic as ever at the age of 89, Chico Hamilton has a resume that includes scores for film, original compositions, commercial jingles, 50 + albums as a leader, and countless international tours.

In March of 2011, with his 90th birthday six months off, Hamilton
trekked out of his New York City penthouse apartment to helm a
marathon recording session resulting in 28 new tracks with his
Euphoria group. No one woodsheds like a jazz drummer, and coming off
a health setback during the Summer of 2010, Hamilton and his Euphoria
group began sheding at weekly rehearsals at Hamilton’s Penthouse A.
These weekly rehearsals played an important part in Hamilton’s
rehabilitation, facilitated Hamilton and his group becoming very
tight with each other and exploring places musically they had not
previously gone together, and brought together a wealth of new
original material, offered up in three courses, each of which is a
different viewpoint of Hamilton’s Revelation.

The Revelation EP on 10” vinyl- Hamilton’s very first recording as a
leader, Chico Hamilton Trio in 1955 on Pacific Jazz with Howard
Roberts & George Duvivier, was pressed up on 10” vinyl. So it seemed
a fitting tribute to Chico’s longevity as a leader for a selection of
Chico originals, two tracks of which are exclusive to this format, 58
years later to be presented in the same format.

The Euphoric EP, on CD- Hamilton’s very proud of each member of his
Euphoria group, both in how they have matured as players and in how
they have developed as composers. A testament to both the prowess of
each group member as a composer, and to Hamilton’s strength as a
leader, this release is a tip of the hat from Hamilton to his
Euphoria group gathering the group members original compositions
together, half of which are exclusive to this format.

The Revelation CD- With 11 tracks exclusive to this format,
Revelation opens and closes with a focus on Hamilton @ his drum kit,
and in-between takes us on a different journey from both the melodic
and rhythmic points of view. From the up-tempo Latin groove
of “Evanly” with its vocal out chorus; the mid tempo swing of “No Way
LA” & “Ten Minutes To Twelve”; the Lunceford-like band vocals
on “Stompin’ @ The Savoy” & “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got
that Swing)”; to Hamilton’s vocalizing on “Every Time I Smile”; the
pastoral melodic beauty of “You’re Note Alone”; the up-tempo funk
of “Black Eyed Peas”; and the bossa funkiness of “Foot Prints in the
Sand” with its starkly beautiful vocal out chorus- every track is
like turning a page in a book that’s holding you on the edge of your
seat, your rapt attention dying to know what’s next to be revealed.
And indeed what a revelation are these 22 tracks!!

From the Revelation CD liner notes by Maxwell Chandler: ”The
excitement of new works from Chico is not derived from any absence as
he has not stopped, nor is it due to the curiosity factor of seeing
what type of artistic phase he is entering into. He does not create
in that manner or care about such things, bringing the best of what
he has found with him even if only as a component to further his
forward moving trajectory. The excitement is due to the knowledge
that here is an addition to the oeuvre of an artist who is the rare
to find, possessor of freedom derived equally from intellect and

Hamilton is busy working on his video memoir, composing and
performing music for film, and working on additional album releases,
performing with his Euphoria group: Paul Ramsey on bass; Nick
Demopoulos on guitar; Evan Schwam on saxes, flute & piccolo; Mayu
Saeki on flute, alto flute & piccolo; and Jeremy Carlstedt on drums
and percussion. Saluted by the Kennedy Center as a “Living Jazz
Legend”, and appointed to the National Council on the Arts , Hamilton
is considered one of the most important living jazz artists and

General Info

Artist Name
Chico Hamilton
Home Page
Jazz / Latin Jazz / Independent

Contact Info

New York, NY
Jeffrey Andrew Caddick