Like other band-leading drummers in the jazz tradition — Art Blakey, Max Roach, Chick Webb — it's difficult to know whether Foreststorn "Chico" Hamilton deserves most praise for the groups he has assembled, the compositions he has written, or simply his drumming. All facets of his musical personality reflect a dedication that has endured for more than seven decades, during which he has been an active participant in as many shifts in musical style and fashion. From swing and jump blues to bebop, Latin, funk and free, "Chics" is fluent in and has explored them all.
In 1958 at the Newport Jazz Festival, "Chics" was caught by movie cameras as he and his quintet of the moment performed the Eastern-tinged "Blue Sands," with Hamilton working out a rolling, mallet solo that built from whisper soft to thunderous climax. It's a featured moment in the film Jazz on a Summer's Day, and captures the focused precision, dynamic range and exotic flavor that are elements in his wide musical palette.
Three other moments worth checking from Hamilton's extended journey follow, each available and recommended highly.