A careful blend of technicality and versatility have made jazz drummer Jeff Hamilton's music captivating across generations. Whether it’s through his song selection or his instrument choice — such as his occasional use of brushes over traditional drumsticks — Grammy award-winner Hamilton and his eponymous trio have learned how to get both casual audiences and famous artists to tune in.
Over the decades, Hamilton has worked with musicians including Frank Sinatra, Ray Brown and Diana Krall, and eventually co-led the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. “I kept my eyes and ears open over the years, and just made some of my own notes too along the way,” Hamilton says.
The Jeff Hamilton Trio, who will perform a jazz concert at Rogers Whitmore Recital Hall in Columbia on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m., is composed of drummer and leader Hamilton, pianist Tamir Hendelman and bassist Jon Hamar. Along with a mixture of originals and standards from the Great American Songbook, the trio will perform most of the material from their latest album Live from San Pedro.
The Rogers Whitmore Recital Hall holds over 200 people but is only 11 rows deep with theater-style seating.
“It’s really an authentic experience where the dynamics you’re hearing aren’t being augmented by electronic infiltrations,” says Josh Chittum, assistant director and public information officer of the "We Always Swing" Jazz Series, which is hosting the trio this spring. “Anywhere you [sit], you are still in the thick of the music. And it’s one of those rooms where I can confidently say that there’s no bad seat in the house.”
The trio’s upcoming Columbia performance is in conjunction with the Jazz Series, a nonprofit that plans and produces jazz concerts to the Columbia community. “It’s all about putting forth quality artists, and Columbia is a great community for supporting the arts,” Chittum says.
This is Hamilton’s first time in Columbia, which makes the performance a prime opportunity to see a Grammy award-winner and Indiana native up close. Hamilton has won 11 Grammys with artists including Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand and Queen Latifah. Most recently, his work is in the film Crazy Rich Asians, featured in the movie’s soundtrack.
“One of the best opportunities for folks to see tradition carried out with contemporary jazz artists, especially established artists like Hamilton, is here,” Chittum says. “Given the nature of improvisation and the spontaneous creation that is jazz, seeing the jazz music live is definitely the way to experience it.”