John Clayton (bassist)

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John Lee Clayton Jr.
John in Rotterdam with Trijntje Oosterhuis.
Background information
Birth name John Clayton, Jr.
Born (1952-08-20)August 20, 1952
Venice, California, U.S.
Genres Jazz, classical music
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Double bass
Labels ArtistShare
Associated acts Diana Krall, Quincy Jones, Jessica Molaskey, John Pizzarelli, Monty Alexander

John Lee Clayton Jr. (born August 20, 1952) is an American jazz and classical double bassist.


Clayton began seriously undertaking the study of double bass at age 16, studying with bassist Ray Brown. By age 19, he had become a bassist on Henry Mancini's television series The Mancini Generation and later graduated in 1975 from Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music with a degree in bass performance.

He went on to tour with the Monty Alexander Trio and the Count Basie Orchestra before taking the position of principal bass in the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in Amsterdam, Netherlands. However, after five years he returned to the U.S. for a break from the classical genre to work more towards jazz and jazz composition. He soon founded the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra with his saxophonist brother Jeff Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton. He and his brother also founded The Clayton Brothers which has featured instrumentalists such as Bill Cunliffe and Terell Stafford.

From 1999 to 2001 he served as Artistic Director of the Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic program at the Hollywood Bowl and has also conducted the All-Alaska Jazz Band.

He currently[when?] serves as Artistic Director for the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival,[1] Sarasota Jazz Festival, Santa Fe Jazz Party, Jazz Port Townsend Summer Workshop,[2] and Vail Jazz Workshop.

Clayton with trombonist Jiggs Wigham in 1989

He also teaches at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music and has served as president over the International Society of Bassists (ISB).

He has composed and/or arranged for such notable artists as The Count Basie Orchestra, Diana Krall, Whitney Houston, Carmen McRae, Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Ernestine Anderson, Quincy Jones, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Natalie Cole, Till Bronner, and The Tonight Show Band.

His son, Gerald Clayton, is a jazz pianist, placing second in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition in 2006.

John Clayton was interviewed by Linus Wyrsch on "The Jazz Hole" for in September 2013 - John Clayton Interview by

Benn Ratliff of the New York Times called Clayton, "one of the most technically imposing bassists in jazz."[3]


In 2007, John Clayton won a Grammy for Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s): "I'm Gonna Live Till I Die" (Queen Latifah) John Clayton, arranger. In December 2009 Brother To Brother by The Clayton Brothers received a Grammy nomination in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group category.

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