In many ways, world-renowned Jazz drummer Jeff Hamilton is something of a local talent. The Richmond, Ind., native started accompanying his parents' Oscar Peterson albums on drums at the age of 8, which ultimately led to his attendance at Indiana University and afterschool studies with future Blue Wisp Big Band skins legend John Von Ohlen.
Influenced by the likes of Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich and Shelly Manne and still in his early twenties, Hamilton went from big break to big break when he joined, in rapid succession, the New Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Lionel Hampton’s Band, the Monty Alexander Trio and Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd, closing down the ’70s and entering the ’80s by replacing his idol Manne in Ray Brown’s L.A.4. In the ’80s, Hamilton played prestige gigs with Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, the Count Basie Orchestra and Monty Alexander. He played with the Ray Brown Trio until the mid-’90s, when he formed his own trio.
In the decade and a half since that momentous event, Hamilton has kept a relentless recording and touring pace with his trio (with bassist Christoph Luty and pianist Tamir Hendelman), the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (with his longtime musical collaborator John Clayton) and Diana Krall. Four years ago, the Los Angeles Jazz Society honored Hamilton and Clayton as their Musicians of the Year.
Hamilton has drummed on nearly 200 recordings in his career, including the latest with his trio, last year’s Symbiosis, which was praised by EJazzNews as exhibiting “a standard of excellence from which the performances of piano trios will be measured.” That’s an example of rave reviews that have followed Hamilton’s work for the duration of his three-and-a-half decade career. They’re not likely to cease anytime soon.
(The Jeff Hamilton Trio plays two shows, 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Get ticket and club details here.)