Remembering Chico Hamilton’s Innovations

SKF NOTE: I came upon drummer Chico Hamilton by accident. Somewhere, many, many years ago, I picked up a Gerry Mulligan-Chet Baker Quartet album on the Pacific Jazz label. I’m sure I had read in at least one of many jazz books and/or magazine articles of this innovative pianoless quartet as part of my happily self-imposed self-study of jazz history.

But I don’t remember being aware of Chico’s playing before listening to my Mulligan-Baker Quartet album. Walkin’ Shoes, more than any other song on the album, immediately grabbed my attention. I loved the sound of Chico’s brush playing. The way he used his bass drum for accenting melody and soloists.

The Mulligan-Baker album led me to grab a Pacific Jazz album of Chico Hamilton’s own innovative group which included cellist Fred Katz. That group’s version of Topsy was one of my favorites.

I was reminded of those earlier days when I came across this Chico Hamilton Gretsch ad recently. Even Chico’s single-head, odd-size drums were innovative.



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