Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra

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Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
CHJO in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Background information
Origin Los Angeles, California, United States
Genres Jazz
Years active 1985 (1985)–present
Labels Lake Street Records, Qwest, Fable/Lightyear, MCG Jazz, Capri
Members John Clayton
Jeff Hamilton
Jeff Clayton
Keith Fiddmont
Rickey Woodard
Charles Ownen
Lee Callet
Bijon Watson
Sal Cracciolo
Snooky Young
Clay Jenkins
Gilbert Castellanos
Ira Nepus
George Bohanon
Ryan Porter
Maurice Spears
Tamir Hendelman
Christoph Luty
Kye Palmer
Past members Randy Napoleon

John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton, and Jeff Clayton (John's brother) brought together a group of Los Angeles-based musicians in 1985 and formed the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (CHJO). Reviewers and fans loved the big band, and the orchestra's first recording, Groove Shop (Capri), earned a Grammy Award nomination. CD Review named it one of the best recordings of 1990. David Badham of Jazz Journal International said "This is one of the finest modern big band issues I've heard." The orchestra has continued to earn critical acclaim.

The most recent CHJO CD is The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: Live at MCG. The album was recorded during a four-night series of performances in Pittsburgh, PA at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild.


For Live at MCG[edit]

  • John Clayton—conductor, bass
  • Jeff Clayton—lead alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, alto flute, flute
  • Jeff Hamilton—drums
  • Keith Fiddmont—alto saxophone, clarinet
  • Rickey Woodard—tenor saxophone, clarinet
  • Charles Ownen—tenor saxophone
  • Lee Callet—bariton saxophone, bass clarinet
  • Bijon Watson—lead trumpet
  • Sal Cracciolo—trumpet

James Ford III—trumpet

  • Snooky Young—trumpet
  • Clay Jenkins—trumpet
  • Gilbert Castellanos—trumpet
  • Ira Nepus—lead trombone
  • George Bohanon—trombone
  • Ryan Porter—trombone
  • Maurice Spears—bass trombone
  • Tamir Hendelman—piano
  • Randy Napoleon—guitar (no longer with CHJO but on this recording)
  • Christoph Luty—bass

The CHJO has backed Charles Aznavour, Diana Krall, Rosemary Clooney, John Pizzarelli, Trijntje Oosterhuis and others, and most of the musicians in the orchestra, including the Clayton Brothers and Hamilton, have appeared on solo releases. Gerald Clayton, son of John Clayton, has performed and toured with the group as pianist. The following discography covers only those albums done by the CHJO.


  • Charles Aznavour & the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, (EMI) 2009
  • Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra Live At MCG Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, (MCG Jazz) 2005
  • Shout Me Out Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, (Fable/Lightyear) 2000
  • EXPLOSIVE! Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra w/Milt Jackson (Qwest) 1998
  • ABSOLUTELY! Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (Lake Street Records) 1993
  • Heart & Soul Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orch. (Capri) 1991
  • Groove Shop Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (Capri) 1990 (Grammy award nominee)