THE EARLY WORD: Chico And The Man

buskirkbyline_rev.jpgBY DAN BUSKIRK JAZZ CRITIC If you could slip through into anybody’s skin, Chico Hamilton‘s life would definitely be an “A” ticket. He was the L.A.’s hottest drummer in L.A. in the 1940s and ’50s, playing with the Big Acts in the Big Rooms, with people like Ellington, Lena Horne, Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Bennett and Billie Holiday. He was there playing behind Chet Baker when the women were just starting to swoon and his own band gave birth to major players like Eric Dolphy, Charles Lloyd, Gabor Szabo and Larry Coryell. He wrote and performed the scores for cinema classics like Roman Polanski‘s Repulsion and Sweet Smell of Success and to this day Chico remains a name act internationally. Last year he celebrated his 85th birthday with FOUR separate CD releases, and just last month the New York Times reported a rare instance of a seated jazz audience brought to their feet and dancing. Yep, it was our man Chico behind the kit that night, doing what he’s been doing for nearly seventy years. May we all go gray that way. Tuesday at 11:00am we’ll have Chico on the line for an interview. Tune in, he might share his secret.

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