Jeff Hamilton has received rave reviews for his dynamic drumming. David Badham of Jazz Journal International stated in his review of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra’s release, Heart and Soul (Capri): “This is one of the finest modern big band issues I’ve heard…This is undoubtedly due to Jeff Hamilton, a most driving and technically accomplished drummer.” Jeff is equally at home in smaller formats. He is an integral part of the Clayton Brothers; in a JazzTimes review of their release, The Music (Capri), Herb Wong wrote: “Always evident is…the colorful work of the rhythm section featuring…the sensitivity and sizzle of Jeff Hamilton’s seasoned drums.” Leonard Feather of The Los Angeles Times described Jeff and his work with Oscar Peterson as “the Los Angeles-based drummer whose intelligent backing and spirited solo work met Peterson’s customarily high standards…” In his review of the Ray Brown Trio in The Denver Post, Jeff Bradley stated that Jeff “brought the crowd to its feet with his amazing hand-drumming, soft and understated yet as riveting and rewarding as any drum solo you’ve heard.”
Born in Richmond, Indiana, Jeff grew up listening to his parent’s big band records and at the age of eight began playing drums along with Oscar Peterson records. He attended Indiana University and later studied with John Von Ohlen. Jeff was influenced by Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Mel Lewis, “Philly” Joe Jones and Shelly Manne. In 1974, he got his first big break playing with the New Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. He then joined Lionel Hampton’s Band until 1975 when he, along with bassist John Clayton, became members of the Monty Alexander Trio. He attained a childhood goal in 1977 when he joined Woody Herman and the Thundering Herd, with whom he made several recordings. In 1978, he was offered the position vacated by Shelly Manne in the L.A.4 with Ray Brown, Bud Shank and Laurindo Almeida. From 1983 to 1987, Jeff performed with Ella Fitzgerald, the Count Basie Orchestra, Rosemary Clooney and Monty Alexander. Jeff began his association with the Ray Brown Trio in 1988 and left in March 1995 to concentrate on his own trio. From 1999-2001, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra was named the in-residence ensemble for the Hollywood Bowl Jazz series. The Los Angeles Jazz Society named Jeff and his musical partner, John Clayton, musicians of the year for 2006. Jeff is currently touring with his own Trio, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and Diana Krall.
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