Foreststorn "Chico" Hamilton, (September 20, 1921 – November 25, 2013) was an American jazz drummer and bandleader.
He came to prominence as sideman with the likes of Lester Young, Gerry Mulligan, Count Basie and Lena Horne. Hamilton then struck out as a bandleader, first with a quintet featuring the cello as a lead instrument, an unusual choice for a jazz band in the 1950s, and subsequently leading a number of groups over the years that performed cool jazz, post bop and jazz fusion.
Chico Hamilton is almost as well known for his band leadership and ability to discover talented newcomers as for his subtle, creative drumming. As a teenager growing up in Los Angeles, Hamilton started playing regularly for the first time with a band that included classmates Charles Mingus, Dexter Gordon, and Illinois Jacquet. He made his recording debut with Slim Gaillard, and studied drumming with jazz great Jo Jones during his military service from 1942-46.
After working briefly with Jimmy Mundy, Count Basie, and Lester Young, Hamilton joined Lena Horne's band in 1948, staying with her on and off for six years, including a tour of Europe. During this time, he also became an original member of the legendary Gerry Mulligan Quartet, which included Mulligan, Chet Baker, and Bob Whitlock. Successfully recording with them for three years (1952-55) on the Pacific Jazz label, Hamilton got his first shot as bandleader.
Hamilton's impact on 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.
Here’s “Beyond The Blue Horizon” from above EP
One of the important West Coast bands, the Hamilton group made their film debut in the movie The Sweet Smell of Success, as well as highlighting Jazz on a Summer's Day, the film about the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. His second great band started in 1962 with Albert Stinson on bass, Gabor Szabo on guitar, Charles Lloyd on tenor sax and flute, and George Bohanon on trombone, bringing a fresh, new sound to jazz once again. Over the years, Hamilton's bands have had various personnel, but the quality of the musicianship has remained high. Some of the players who Hamilton nurtured in his bands include Jim Hall, Eric Dolphy, Ron Carter, Arthur Blythe, Larry Coryell, and John Abercrombie.
During the 1960s, Hamilton formed a company to score feature films and commercials for television and radio. In 1987, Hamilton was on the originating faculty at Parsons New School of Jazz in New York. During the same year, he formed a new quartet called Euphoria, and began touring in Europe. The quartet met with great popularity, and in 1992, their album Arroyo placed in the Jazz Album of the Year category in the Down Beat Reader's Poll. In 1995, a documentary of Hamilton's extraordinary life and career, Dancing to a Different Drummer, directed by Julian Benedikt, was presented twice on the French-German Arts Network, ARTE.
In June 1999, Hamilton received a Beacons of Jazz award from the Mannes College of Music at the New School University in New York City, Never one to rest on his laurels, Hamilton released four new albums in 2006 in celebration of his 85th birthday. In 2007, he was a member of the NEA's National Council on the Arts. He released "Twelve Tones of Love" on Joyous Shout! in 2009. In March 2011, he had a long recording session, resulting in 28 new tracks with his Euphoria group. Following a health setback in 2010, he and the group began weekly rehearsals at Hamilton's Penthouse A; which brought together the material which would comprise Revelation, an 11-track CD, released in 2011.
Hamilton died aged 92 of natural causes at his home in New York.on November 25, 2013 in Manhattan.
(Compiled mainly from the National Endowment for the Arts & Wikipedia).