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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: The L.A. Treasures Project

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The exciting opener of this CD--the high-swinging welcome of “I Love Being Here with You"--foreshadows the next 64 minutes of tight, crackling arrangements that are impeccably rendered and full of joy. The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, (CHJO) founded in 1985, has always been known for its full-hearted, world-class playing. The “L.A Treasures" of this title refers to the soulful veteran vocalists, Barbara Morrison and Ernie Andrews, who get four splendid features apiece, each one gleaming anew in its luscious orchestral setting. Examples are Morrison's delightful delivery of “Exactly Like You" and her sultry climb on “Fever"; for his part, Andrews shows ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: The L.A. Treasures Project:Live at Alvas Showroom

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The “L.A. Treasures" heralded herein are singers Ernie Andrews (eighty-six years young when the album was recorded in September 2013) and Barbara Morrison (a relative novice at sixty-one). The idea to record sprang from rehearsals earlier that year by the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra in which Andrews and Morrison were invited to sit in. Afterward, co-leader John Clayton writes, it was decided that “we need to document these artists . . . these treasures!" What a splendid idea! An idea, in fact, that leaves most others in its wake and gasping for breath. The album, taped before an ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: The L.A. Treasures Project

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For nearly thirty-years now the Grammy-nominated Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (CHJO) has been easily recognizable as one of the best big bands in the business. Led by bassist John Clayton, saxophonist and brother Jeff Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton, the group embarked on a mission to document their various rehearsals with West Coast vocal legends Ernie Andrews and Barbara Morrison, and do so with The L.A. Treasures Project recorded live in the famous Showroom of Alva's Dance Studio and Music Store in San Pedro, California. Presenting a mixture of instrumentals and vocal numbers, the opening “I Love Being Here ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra at Mesa Arts Center

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Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra Mesa Arts Center Mesa, Arizona March 7, 2014 The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, one of the best big bands in the nation for three decades, swung mightily all night long with strong section work and stylish solos arranged for specific members, per Duke Ellington and Count Basie. A brief post-intermission QA period from triumverate co-leaders bassist John Clayton, saxophonist Jeff Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton added personal insights for a full house of enthusiastic Arizona fans. With John Clayton fronting the band as director, the concert opened with “Georgia on My ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Big Band Jazz: Live at MCG / Pag's Groove / A Faceless Place

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While large ensembles reached their heyday in the '40s, there are many still recording today, even if their ability to tour widely is limited.

Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra Live at MCG MCG Jazz 2005

Of all the current big bands playing both bop and swing, the Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra is easily among the very best. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2005, the band recorded this live CD at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild during an extended booking in 2004. The core group--brothers John and Jeff Clayton (bass and reeds, respectively) and drummer Jeff Hamilton--makes sure the solo ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: Live at MCG

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You can feel the echoes of Woody Herman, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington in every song that the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra interprets. You can feel the cool swing of Henry Mancini and the hard bop syncopation of Horace Silver too. And, of course, you can feel the all-star quality that this big band brings with it everywhere it goes.

Performing live at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild in Pittsburgh last year, the band gave local audiences a powerful dose of the kind of cure-all medicine that takes care of things. The prescription works all year long.

Although ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: Live at MCG

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It's not easy to top a live performance by a big band at the Manchester's Craftsman's Guild. The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra continues the tradition of creating some of the grooviest, swinging jazz to hit the CD racks in recent memory. And that says a lot, considering what's out there. With Live at MCG, the band celebrates its 20th year in grand fashion.The group goes old-school on this outing, revisiting compositions by such renowned composers as Hoagy Carmichael, Horace Silver, Sonny Stitt, and Thelonius Monk, among others, as well as some original tunes composed by band members. The set ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: Live at MCG

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Sometimes a live recording does nothing more than highlight a performance that, while fun to attend, doesn't really bear repeated exposure. On the other hand, some manage to vividly capture the excitement, energy and magic of a show, making their listeners wish they could have been there. Now twenty years old, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra--co-led by bassist/arranger/conductor John Clayton, woodwind multi-instrumentalist Jeff Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton--has been gaining an increasingly strong reputation since its '89 recorded debut, Groove Shop, as a self-contained entity and as the big band of choice for artists including Ernestine Anderson, Diana Krall and John ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: Live at MCG

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For me, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra has been an acquired taste. I was less enamored than others with its first two releases, Groove Shop and Heart and Soul, but since then the orchestra has produced a series of winners (Absolutely!, Explosive!, Shout Me Out) and marks its twentieth anniversary with what is arguably its most impressive album to date, Live at MCG (Manchester Craftsmen's Guild).

One reason for the steady improvement is consistency; several of these gentlemen have been with the orchestra from the beginning, others almost that long. Another is that co-leader John Clayton, who wrote all the charts, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: Shout Me Out

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The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra is in the process of exploding on the international consciousness, an “overnight success" after eighteen years. While the CHJO has been hugely popular on the West Coast and Japan, and famously anchored the Hollywood Bowl for three years, it just made its New York debut on April 21 at the Jazz Standard (among the appreciative audience: Benny Golson, Frank Wess, Rufus Reid, and John Pizzarelli). From New York, it was on to the Kennedy Center (with Regina Carter, Nancy Wilson, Dianne Reeves, and Liza Minelli), then to play and record at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: Shout Me Out!

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If there were an award for “most improved big band,” the opinion here is that the C–HJO would win going away, as its two most recent albums ( Explosive!, with vibraphonist Milt Jackson, and now Shout Me Out! ) have moved well beyond its earlier endeavors to prove beyond any doubt that this is one of the most talented and exciting ensembles performing anywhere in the lower forty–eight. Clearly, the primary role model is Basie, and the C–HJO is emphatically adhering to the swinging blueprint laid bare by the Count and refined during his many years in the big–band trenches. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: Shout Me Out!

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There’s a kind of instrumental music that is so loud and annoying that it will bring out the earplugs and go right through your chest. And then, there’s another kind of instrumental music that sways like semi-liquid through the room in a never-ending stream of lightweight embellishment. Although these forms of entertainment appeal to a wide audience, both lack substance and both prove to be quite forgettable in the end.

Here’s something much more substantial. Out of the Count Basie tradition, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra has been together in Los Angeles for 14 years. The three leaders - bassist John ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: Shout Me Out

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Deservedly rising in public consciousness and critical acclaim from its West Coast cultish following, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (CHJO) possesses a quality that distinguishes it from other big bands: an unforced inherent swing. Taking a cue from Basie minimalism combined with a hard drive, CHJO can't help but ooze blues from every beat and every measure. The composition “Shout Me Out" assumes a Hefti-ish heavily accented anticipation of the beat, a la “Li'l Darling." “Plunger Mute Syndrome," once again a blues, arranges for an alternating brass-and-sax give-and-take as Basie piano tickles fill the fourth measures, just before 22-year-old trombone wunderkind ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Milt Jackson meets the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: Explosive!

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Vibraphonist Milt Jackson, 76, formed the roots of the Modern Jazz Quartet almost fifty years ago. That same lyrical quality that drives the MJQ stands before the fourteen-year-old Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, sharing, blending, and coaxing the melodies out of his vibraphone’s metal bars. The microphones are set up so that the listener has the same opportunity as one who is seated front and center, about seven rows back; piano and drums are on the left, while most of the horns are on the right. Jackson is in the center. The album offers much of the same material that was presented ...



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