Hamilton, Jeff, versatile and musical drummer; b. Richmond, Ind., Aug. 4, 1953. He is probably best known for his collaborations with the Ray Brown Trio (1988–95) and for following Shelly Manne in 1978 as drummer for The L.A.4, a group co-led by Laurindo Almeida and Bud Shank with Ray Brown. Hamilton studied percussion for two years at Ind. Univ., where his fellow students included Peter Erskine and John Clayton, and he also learned jazz drumming from John Van Ohlen in Indianapolis. He played with The Tommy Dorsey Orch. under the leadership of Murray McEachern, and worked briefly with the Lionel Hampton band in 1975, Monty Alexander’s trio (1975–77), and Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd (1977–78), recording three albums with the latter. After making a series of recordings for the Concord label with The L.A.4, he became part of the Concord stable, regularly recording as side-man on many albums. From 1983-87 Hamilton performed with Ella Fitzgerald, the Count Basie Orch., Rosemary Clooney, and Monty Alexander. During the 1990s he toured internationally with the Ray Brown Trio and Oscar Peterson, worked with the Clayton Brothers’ Quartet, and, from 1989, co-led the Clayton-Hamilton Orch. In addition to recording albums for Capri and Lake Street Records with the Clayton-Hamilton Orch., he has made over 100 recordings with artists such as Natalie Cole, Barbra Streisand, Mel Tormé, George Shearing, Milt Jackson, Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel, Scott Hamilton, Mark Murphy, and Toshiko Akiyoshi. Adept with both sticks and brush work, he is every bit as comfortable driving a big band or small groups, and has recorded with his own trio, formed in 1994.
Watch What Happens (1978); Live at Montreux (1979); Zaca (1980); Groove Shop (1990); Heart and Soul (1991); Absolutely! (1994); It’s Hamilton Time (1994); Jeff Hamilton Trio: Live! (1996); Dynavibes (1997).
—Nancy Ann Lee