jazz artist birthdays:

Chico Hamilton (1921) - A subtle and creative drummer, Chico Hamilton will probably always be better known for the series of quintets that he led during 1955-1965 and for his ability as a talent scout than for his fine drumming. Hamilton first played drums while in high school with the many fine young players (including Dexter Gordon, Illinois Jacquet, and Charles Mingus) who were in Los Angeles at the time. He made his recording debut with Slim Gaillard, was house drummer at Billy Berg's, toured with Lionel Hampton, and served in the military (1942-1946). He toured as Lena Horne's drummer (on and off during 1948-1955), and gained recognition for his work with the original Gerry Mulligan piano-less quartet (1952-1953). In 1955, Hamilton put together his first quintet, a chamber jazz group with the reeds of Buddy Collette, guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Carson Smith, and cellist Fred Katz. One of the last important West Coast jazz bands, The Chico Hamilton Quintet was immediately popular and appeared in a memorable sequence in the documentary Jazz on a Summer's Day (set at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival) and the Hollywood film The Sweet Smell of Success. In 1966, Chico Hamilton started composing for commercials and the studios and he broke up his quintet. However, he continued leading various groups, playing music that ranged from the avant-garde to erratic fusion and advanced hard bop. In 1989, Chico Hamilton had a recorded reunion with the original members of his 1955 quintet (with guitarist John Pisano in Hall's place), and in the 1990s he made a number of records for Soul Note.

Slam Stewart (1914) - Leroy “Slam” Stewart was the most recorded jazz bassists of the 1940s.  His first musical instrument was the violin but later he switched to the bass, studying at Boston Conservatory.  Stewart, who had perfect pitch, mastered the technique of playing solos with a bow while humming along simultaneously at an octave higher, which made him a very popular showman and very famous in the jazz world.  He got his nickname from the percussive “slamming” sound his strings made when they hit the neck of his bass while plucking them.  In 1937, he moved to New York and there he met Slim Gaillard.  Together, they became very popular on radio and records.  Their song “Flat Foot Floogie” was a huge hit.  During the 1930s and 1940s, he worked mostly in small groups, playing with Art Tatum, Lester Young, Benny Goodman, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, among others.  He also led his own group for a period of time which featured the up-and-coming pianist Erroll Garner.  He also performed a couple of stunning duets with tenor saxophonist Don Byas at a 1945 Town Hall concert.  During his career, he won many awards, including Down Beat’s Best Bassist Of The Year in 1945 and Berklee College of Music’s Highest Achievement Honor Award.  Slam Stewart died on December 10, 1987.

JAZZ ALBUM RECORDED:

Walt Dickerson – To My Queen (1962)
Track Listing:
1. To My Queen
2. How Deep Is The Ocean?
3. God Bless The Child

Review by Steve Huey at Allmusic:
To My Queen is Walt Dickerson's crowning achievement, a perfect balance between his intellectually advanced concepts and deeply felt passion. Dickerson had always displayed a fertile imagination, but there hadn't been much indication that his vision could be as expansive as it was on To My Queen. Never before had he attempted such extended, freely structured performances, which makes the album's consistency and focus all the more impressive. Like the foreground of a canvas, the listener's attention naturally falls on the title cut, a side-long, 17-and-a-half-minute opus (written in tribute to his wife, Elizabeth) that became Dickerson's signature piece. It's deliberate, spare, and tender, with the soloists accompanied by either a gentle swing or the barest hints of support. Dickerson's shimmering opening statements are followed by thoughtful explorations from pianist Andrew Hill and bassist George Tucker, while drummer Andrew Cyrille offers subtle, whisper-quiet shadings, save for occasional drum rolls that come off like momentarily swelling passions amidst all the introspection. The second half of the album maintains the mood set by the first, featuring an 11-minute version of "How Deep Is the Ocean" and a vibes/bass duet on "God Bless the Child" that trumps Dickerson's earlier effort in the same vein. This is arguably the finest quartet Dickerson ever led, not just because of the advanced musicianship and sympathetic interplay, but also because each member serves the material with taste and care. The whole album is swathed in a gauzy glow that speaks even more eloquently than its creator's conceptual ambition; this is music from the heart as well as the mind.
 


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    BLUES BITS & JAZZ JOTS 
    is a historical timeline for birthdays of blues and jazz artists and jazz album recording dates.  As our research progresses, we'll add more categories.  Look for updates each week, normally Mondays through Fridays, when we find something to share.

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