Where to begin with an artist whose repertoire is matched only by his musical genius! Foreststorn “Chico” Hamilaton was an jazz drummer and bandleader whose career spanned well over four decades! He rose to stardom as the sideman for Lester Young, Gerry Mulligan, Count Basie, and Lena Horne, before becoming a bandleader. He recorded his first album as leader in 1955 with George Duvivier (double bass) and Howard Roberts (jazz guitar) for Pacific Jazz. In the same year Hamilton formed an unusual quintet in L.A. featuring cello, flute/saxes/clarinet, guitar, bass and drums. The quintet has been described as one of the last important West Coast jazz bands!
Today’s song was recorded a decade into his career and featured on his 1965 album, El Chico; a pure and utter percussive delight! Juicy rhythms packed tightly into a kaleidoscopic vacuum of groove-laden melodies and opulent layers of crisp jazz/Latin soundscapes – this album is something I need to investigate more! Conquistadores (The Conquerors) is one of the first Chico Hamilton tracks I heard and it’s pulsing warmth offered immediate retreat into lands of lively thunder…you could literally get lost on this island of sound and the dizzying breeze of exotic percussion is as heady as it is revitalising. Check it out above.