Jeff Hamilton, drums

MSUFCU Jazz Artist in Residence
4/7 – 4/12, 2014

Also known as “The Hammer,” Jeff Hamilton’s persona on the drums is 180-degress from his teaching style. The week-long residency brought the booming talent yet soft-spoken expertise of Hamilton to stops on campus and to schools in East Lansing, Cheboygan, and Whitaker’s alma mater, Martin Luther King Jr., in Detroit. Hamilton, Jazz Orchestra I, and the Professors of Jazz gave a great performance at Fairchild Theatre to wrap up the 34th annual Jazz Spectacular.

During his visits, Hamilton combined inspiration and motivation to encourage students to take their music to another level. He helped them learn about how to lead and to really listen to the intent of a piece in order to properly orchestrate it as a group.

Drumming since age 8, Hamilton grew up listening to his parents’ big band records and always refers to himself as a musician more than he does a drummer. A true collaborator, he has performed with Ella Fitzgerald, the Count Basie Orchestra, Rosemary Clooney, and Monty Alexander. Hamilton is currently touring with his own trio, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, and Diana Krall. In addition to his many recordings with Ray Brown, he is on nearly 200 recordings with artists such as Natalie Cole, Diana Krall, Milt Jackson, Rosemary Clooney, Barbara Streisand, Mel Torme, John Pizzarelli, Benny Carter, Lalo Schifrin, George Shearing, and many others. As well as recording and performing throughout the world, he also teaches, arranges, and composes.

“The clinics you [Rodney Whitaker] and Jeff Hamilton gave, working with my students on their music and then having the MSU students play with my students was inspiring to my jazz band and the beginners that were sitting in the band room.  Several of my beginning students want to learn jazz.”
– Victoria Miller, director, Martin Luther King, Jr. Senior High School Bands