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Ithaca College Says Happy Birthday To Enduring Master Chico Hamilton

Legendary drummer and bandleader Chico Hamilton will spend the evening of Sunday, Sept. 21, at Ithaca College, performing with his group Euphoria and celebrating his 87th birthday. Beginning at 8:15 p.m. in Ford Hall in the James J. Whalen Center for Music, this musical celebration is part of the Enduring Masters series, which features the work of older musicians and brings under-represented music to central New York.

The members of Euphoria are Cary DeNigris on guitar; Paul Ramsey on bass; Evan Schwam on flute, tenor and soprano saxes; Eddie Barbash on flute, soprano, alto and baritone saxes; and Jeremy Carlstedt on percussion.

Supported by a grant from the New York State Music Fund, the Enduring Masters series is a collaboration between the Ithaca College School of Music, Gerontology Institute, and Linden Center for Creativity and Aging. The Gerontology Institute is in the Division of Interdisciplinary and International Studies. The New York State Music Fund was established by the New York Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. For more information, visit www.ithaca.edu/enduringmasters.

Foreststorn Chico Hamilton was born Sept. 21, 1921, in Los Angeles. A fast-track musical education in a band with his schoolmates (Charles Mingus, Illinois Jacquet, Ernie Royal, Dexter Gordon, Buddy Collette and Jack Kelso) led to engagements with such luminaries as Lionel Hampton, Slim & Slam, T-Bone Walker, Lester Young, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Charlie Barnett, Billy Eckstine, Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr., Billie Holiday, Gerry Mulligan and Lena Horne. By 1955, Hamilton had established himself as a jazz drummer on the rise, and in that year he struck out on his own as a bandleader.

More than half a century later, Hamilton is still as dynamic as ever. His resume includes film scores, original compositions, commercial jingles, more than 50 albums, and countless international tours. In 2008 he released two EPs and two previously unreleased recordings, each providing a different perspective on the Chico Hamilton experience.

Hamilton’s distinctive grooves have been rediscovered on the “The Alternative Dimensions of El Chico,” an extended play (EP) collection of dance/remix tracks and collaborative works with some of today’s hottest artists: including Fertile Ground, SoulFeast (Joe Claussell and Brian Michel Bacchus), Mark de Clive-Lowe, and Blaze. Hamilton’s stature among tastemakers throughout the DJ community is longstanding and profound. 

“I’m told that people still dance to my music in nightclubs,” Hamilton said. “There’s no greater compliment than that.”

Hamilton is presently teaching in the New School University Jazz Program, recording and touring extensively in North America with Euphoria, composing and performing music for film, and working on his autobiography.




Originally published in News Releases: Ithaca College Says Happy Birthday To Enduring Master Chico Hamilton.