Three solid LA jazz musicians – brothers Jeff and John Clayton and their friend Jeff Hamilton – decided to put together a big band in 1986. Now in their 60s, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra has led one of the most successful and well-respected big bands ever formed on the West Coast. They’ll be playing at the Segerstom Center on Wednesday, presented by the Philharmonic Society.
In addition to technical prowess and great musicianship, each band member is distinguished by his dedication to the orchestra. Many great jazz artists have been a part of this musical family: George Bohanon, Oscar Brashear, Bobby Bryant, Al McKibbon, Charles Owens, Andy Simpkins, Gerald Wiggins, Ricky Woodard and Snooky Young.
While typical in configuration (its 19 pieces include 4 rhythm, 5 saxophones, 4 trombones, 5 trumpets, and John as bass soloist/conductor), the music is anything but typical, and that’s what keeps the band members and the audiences enamored. “The Hollywood Bowl may be interested in a premier work; Diana Krall may want to record with the band; Jeff Hamilton may suggest a feature for someone in the band. These are all normal ways that allow the band’s repertoire to grow,” explains John.
The band has recorded six CDs to date:
- “Shop” (Capri, 1990) Grammy nominated
- “Heart And Soul” (Capri, 1994)
- “Absolutely” (Lake Street, 1994/95),
- “Shout Me Out” (Fable/Lightyear, 2000)
- “Live At MCG” (MCG Jazz, 2005)
- “Explosive: Milt Jackson Meets the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra” (Qwest, 2010)
They can also be heard on records with:
- Ernestine Anderson (“Boogie Down: Ernestine Anderson with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra,” Concord, 1990)
- “Charles Aznavour with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra” (EMI France, 2009).
- Gladys Knight (“Before Me,” Verve, 2006),
- Diana Krall (“Christmas Songs,” Verve, 2005; “From This Moment On,” Verve, 2006; and a not-yet-released project coming soon)
- John Pizzarelli (“Dear Mr. Sinatra,” Telarc, 2006)