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Chico Hamilton Quintet


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The Chico Hamilton Quintet was a unique Fifties chamber-jazz ensemble. Hamilton was the drummer — ordinarily an odd choice to lead this kind of group, but Hamilton was probably the most musical drummer in jazz, equal to his contemporary, Shelly Manne, in subtlety and finesse, but tempered by his seven years with singer Lena Horne into a greater musical sensitivity. A west coast jazz deejay, Sleepy Stein, said of Hamilton, “this man plays music, not drums.”

The Quintet was equally unique in its instrumentation and its focus on musical forms more commonly associated with classical music than jazz. Yet the Quintet depended on spontaneous improvised interplay between its musicians. They were Buddy Collette (saxes, flutes, oboe, clarinet), Jim Hall (guitar), Fred Katz (cello), and Carson Smith (bass). This lineup of instruments survived several turnovers in personnel, as Paul Horn replaced Collette, and was himself much later replaced by Eric Dolphy; John Pisano replaced Hall; Hal Gaylor replaced Smith; and Nate Gershman replaced Katz (at the same time Dolphy came in). When eventually Hamilton hired Charles Loyd to replace Dolphy, he also abandoned the original Quintet format and its music.

In its original form the Quintet was a musical equal to its contemporary, the Modern Jazz Quartet. Both played chamber jazz: subtle, contrapuntal music to which each instrument contributed its own line.


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  • LondonLouis

    Am just watching "Sweet Small of Success" that brilliant Burt Lancaster/Tony Curtis film noir of New York journalism in the 1950s. Chico Hamilton provides the jazz input.

    1 Apr 2011 Reply
  • gakko

    Yeah... right.

    9 Aug 2010 Reply
  • TaggingMachine

    Untagged from "" at 2077 listeners. It will take a while for the change to show.

    1 Aug 2010 Reply

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