Chico Hamilton Passes Away At 92

chico hamilton

Jazz great Chico Hamilton passed away this week at the age of 92.

Hamilton, who worked on films with Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, recorded more than 60 albums as a bandleader and was an architect of the West Coast cool jazz style. He worked as a sideman in the forties with Slim Gaillard, Lionel Hampton, and Count Basie and toured with singer Lena Horne from 1948-55. Over time, he played with countless artists, including Illinois Jacquet, T-Bone Walker, Lester Young, Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday.

His career was varied and his fifties group, with flutist Paul Horn and guitarist John Pisano, made a cameo appearance in the 1957 Burt Lancaster-Tony Curtis film, Sweet Smell of Success. He was also featured in the seminal 1960 jazz documentary, Jazz on a Summer's Day, about the Newport Jazz Festival. He wrote the music for the 1967 movie Repulsion, director Roman Polanski's first English-language film, and composed the theme for the television cartoon series The Gerald McBoing-Boing Show.

He continued to play into his nineties, and recently recorded an album titled Iquiring Minds, set to be released in spring 2014.

Among the musicians inspired by Hamilton was Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, who as a teenager heard a recording by Gerry Mulligan's quartet that included Hamilton and Chet Baker. Watts later told the Los Angeles Times: "Chico Hamilton was playing drums on the first record I bought. I can't really explain how the music made me feel. It was just something with the sound of the brushes. But I just fell in love with it."

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