You might call it "melodic percussion." Bearded, burly jazz musician Jeff Hamilton belies his appearance with a drumming technique so light and deft that his drum set almost becomes a melodic instrument.
Hamilton is a familiar presence on the Salt Lake music scene, having been in the area repeatedly backing up such jazz artists as Jamaican-born pianist Monty Alexander, legendary bassist Ray Brown and even a Dixieland band.Monday, however, he becomes the headliner when he brings his own trio to the Salt Lake Hilton (pianist Larry Fuller and bassist Lynn Seaton will fill out the combo). The concert will close out this year's Jazz at the Hilton series.
This will be the second time in four months Hamilton has visited the Hilton. He came in March with Alexander and John Clayton, and if Monday's show is anything like that one, get your ticket now.
In that concert, Hamilton coaxed an astonishing range of sound and feel from his very spare drum set, perfectly complementing what his fellow musicians were doing. Using sticks, brushes and his bare hands, he was a tasteful, understated presence, always appropriate, and always exciting -- even during ballads.
After one concert, noted jazz critic Leonard Feather remarked on "the sensitivity and sizzle of Jeff Hamilton's seasoned drums."
Hamilton's pedigree is impeccable. Born in Indiana, he was first influenced by the likes of Oscar Peterson and later Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich and Mel Lewis. He has played with a who's-who of jazz musicians, including, to name just a few, Woody Herman, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Krall, George Shearing, Toshiko Akioshi and Clark Terry. He has played in big bands and small combos, and accompanied singers like Natalie Cole and Barbra Streisand.
Hamilton is probably best known for his association with Alexander. The two joined bassist John Clayton for a fruitful collaboration in the 1970s, which continues to this day.
In recent years, however, Hamilton's own groups have been gaining attention. Besides his trio, the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra was named the in-residence ensemble for the Hollywood Bowl Jazz Series, a task with which he will be busy this summer.
The concert begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 each and can be purchased at Holladay Pharmacy, 278-0411.