Los Angeles-based drummer Chico Hamilton (1921), who had been a member of
Gerry Mulligan's quintet in 1952-53,
formed his (mixed-race) quintet in 1955 with
guitarist Jim Hall, reedist Buddy Collette, bassist Carson Smith and cellist Fred Katz that debuted with
Spectacular (august 1955).
Like in the case of the Modern Jazz Quintet, this unusual line-up
often sounded like a black man's version of chamber music, except that the
material was much simpler.
Accordingly, Hamilton's drumming was much more than mere timekeeping,
using the percussion to add color to the harmony,
as shown in the solos of
Drums West on Quintet In Hi Fi (february 1956) and
Mr Jo Jones on Quintet (october 1956).
After several changes of line-up (notably guitarist Jim Hall and flutist Paul Horn), a new quintet
with Nate Gershman on cello and Eric Dolphy on reeds
recorded Gongs East (december 1958)
and Three Faces (february 1959), with several notable solos
(Trinkets, Happy Little Dance, No Speak No English Man).
The last of the cello albums was
Special (november 1960), featuring Charles Lloyd on flute, after which
Hamilton replaced the cello with the trombone for Drumfusion (february 1962),
Passin' Thru (september 1962) and Man from Two Worlds (december 1963), all dominated by Lloyd's compositions and devoted mostly to hard-bop music.
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