Jimmy Hamilton

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Jimmy Hamilton
Jimmy Hamilton and Harry Carney, Aquarium NYC, c. November 1946 Photography by William P. Gottlieb
Jimmy Hamilton and Harry Carney, Aquarium NYC, c. November 1946
Photography by William P. Gottlieb
Background information
Birth nameJames Hamilton
Born(1917-05-25)May 25, 1917
Dillon, South Carolina, United States
DiedSeptember 20, 1994(1994-09-20) (aged 77)
St. Croix, Virgin Islands
InstrumentsClarinet, saxophone
Associated actsDuke Ellington

Jimmy Hamilton (May 25, 1917 – September 20, 1994) was an American jazz clarinetist and saxophonist who was a member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra.


Hamilton was born in Dillon, South Carolina, and grew up in Philadelphia. Having learned to play piano and brass instruments, in the 1930s he started playing the latter in local bands before switching to clarinet and saxophone. During this time he studied with clarinet teacher Leon Russianoff. In 1939 he played with Lucky Millinder, Jimmy Mundy, and Bill Doggett, going on to join the Teddy Wilson sextet in 1940. After two years with Wilson, he played with Eddie Heywood and Yank Porter.

In 1943, he replaced Barney Bigard in the Duke Ellington orchestra and stayed with Ellington until 1968. His style was different on his two instruments: on tenor saxophone he had an R&B sound, while on clarinet he was much more precise and technical. He wrote some of his own material in his time with Ellington.

After he left the Ellington orchestra, Hamilton played and arranged on a freelance basis before spending the 1970s and 1980s in the Virgin Islands teaching music. On his retirement from teaching he continued to perform with his own groups in 1989 and 1990. Hamilton died September 20, 1994 in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, at the age of 77.


As leader[edit]

  • Clarinet in High Fi (Urania, 1955)
  • Jimmy Hamilton and the New York Jazz Quintet (Urania, 1956)
  • Swing Low Sweet Clarinet (Everest, 1960)
  • It's About Time (Prestige Swingville, 1961)
  • Can't Help Swinging (Prestige Swingville, 1961)
  • In a Sentimental Mood (World Record Club, 1963)
  • Rediscovered at the Buccaneer (Who's Who in Jazz, 1985)
  • S'weet But (Hot Drive, 1997)
  • Tribute to Barney Bigard and Russell Procope (Squatty Roo, 2014)

With Clarinet Summit

  • In Concert at the Public Theater (India Navigation, 1984)
  • Southern Bells (Black Saint, 1987)

As sideman[edit]

With Duke Ellington

  • Masterpieces by Ellington (Columbia, 1951)
  • Live At The Crystal Gardens 1952 (HEP RECORDS 2011)
  • Ellington '55 (Capitol, 1954)
  • Seattle Concert (RCA Victor, 1954)
  • Ellington Showcase (Capitol, 1955)
  • Historically Speaking (Bethlehem, 1956)
  • Duke Ellington Presents... (Bethlehem, 1956)
  • Ellington Uptown (Columbia, 1952)
  • Liberian Suite (Columbia, 1956)
  • Ellington at Newport (Columbia, 1956)
  • A Drum Is a Woman (Columbia, 1957)
  • Such Sweet Thunder (Columbia, 1957)
  • Newport 1958 (Columbia, 1958)
  • The Cosmic Scene (Columbia, 1958)
  • Ellington Indigos (Columbia, 1958)
  • Ellington Jazz Party (Columbia, 1959)
  • Ellington Moods (Sesac, 1959)
  • Festival Session (Columbia, 1959)
  • His Piano and Orchestra at the Bal Masque (Columbia, 1959)
  • Anatomy of a Murder (Philips, 1959)
  • Blues in Orbit (Columbia 1960)
  • Paris Blues (His Master's Voice, 1961)
  • Midnight in Paris (Columbia, 1962)
  • Piano in the Background (CBS, 1962)
  • All American in Jazz (Columbia, 1962)
  • Afro-Bossa (Reprise, 1963)
  • The Symphonic Ellington (Reprise, 1963)
  • Ellington '65 (Reprise, 1964)
  • Harlem (1964 - Pablo, 1985)
  • Plays with the Original Motion Picture Score Mary Poppins (Reprise, 1964)
  • Concert in the Virgin Islands (Reprise 1965)
  • The Popular Duke Ellington (RCA Victor, 1966)
  • Duke Ellington's Concert of Sacred Music (RCA Victor, 1966)
  • Far East Suite (RCA Victor, 1967)
  • Soul Call (Verve, 1967)
  • Duke Ellington at the Cote d'Azur (Verve, 1967)
  • Liederhalle Stuttgart 1967 (SWR, Jazzhaus, 2020)
  • And His Mother Called Him Bill (RCA Victor, 1968)
  • Second Sacred Concert (Fantasy, 1968)
  • Black, Brown and Beige (CBS, 1969)
  • Live At The Opernhaus Cologne 1969 (Delta Music, 2016)
  • 70th Birthday Concert 1969
  • First Time! the Count Meets the Duke (Columbia, 1971)
  • The Great Paris Concert (Atlantic, 1973)
  • All Star Road Band (Doctor Jazz, 1983)
  • All Star Road Band Volume 2 (Doctor Jazz, 1985)

With Johnny Hodges

With others


External links[edit]