Legendary jazz drummer and bandleader Foreststorn ‘Chico’ Hamilton, born September 21st, 1921 in Los Angeles, had a fast track musical education in a band with his schoolmates Charles Mingus, Illinois Jacquet, Ernie Royal, Dexter Gordon, Buddy Collette and Jack Kelso. Engagements with 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 six years with Lena Horne established this young West Coast prodigy as a jazz drummer on the rise, before striking out on his own as a bandleader in 1955.
Chico appears in the March Milastaire number in the film “You'll Never Get Rich” (1941) as part of the backing group supporting Fred Astaire, and performed on the soundtrack of the Bing Crosby/Bob Hope film “Road to Bali”.
Chico’s impact upon jazz includes the introduction of two unique and distinct sounds: first in 1955 with his Original Quintet which combined the sounds of his drums, the bass of Carson Smith, the guitar of Jim Hall, the cello of Fred Katz, and the flute of Buddy Collette; and the second in 1962 with his own drums, the bass of Albert Stinson, the guitar of Gabor Szabo, the tenor sax of Charles Lloyd, and the trombone of George Bohanon.
Recorded first lp as leader in '55 with George Duvivier and Howard Roberts for Pacific Jazz; in '55 formed an unusual quintet in L.A. feat. cello, flute, guitar, bass and drums which acquired national following; the original personnel incl. Buddy Collette, Jim Hall, Fred Katz and Carson Smith; Hamilton continued to tour using different personnel '57-'60; group incl. Paul Horne and John Pisano feat. in the film “Sweet Smell of Success” in '57; group incl. Nate Gershman and Eric Dolphy app. in film “Jazz on a Summer’s Day” in '60; Dolphy makes first recordings with Hamilton on “With Strings Attached”, “Gongs East”, “The Three Faces of Chico”, and “That Hamilton Man”.
Hamilton revamps group in '61 with new musical direction; new group incl. Charles Lloyd, Gabor Szabo, George Bohanon and Albert Stinson; group records for Columbia, Reprise and Impulse also records soundtrack for industrial film “Litho” in '62, the first American film to be shown behind the Iron Curtain. Hamilton forms commercial and film production company in '65; scores the feature films “Repulsion”, “Mr. Rico”, “By Design”, “Liebe Auf Den Ersten Blick”, “Die Sonnengottin”, and “A Practical Man”; scores for television “Portrait of Willie Mays” and the popular children's series “Gerald McBoing Boing”; scores hundreds of commercials for TV and radio. Forms new group with Larry Coryell, Richard Davis and Arnie Lawrence in '66 and records “The Dealer” for Impulse. Performs Montreux and North Sea Jazz Festivals in '72 and '73. Forms new "Players" group in '75 w. Arthur Blythe, Steve Turre, Barry Finnerty and Abdullah; tours with "Players" using different personnel '76-'80; records for Blue Note, Mercury, Nautilus and Elektra. Originating faculty member in '87 of New School University Jazz & Contemporary Music Program.