1960 - 1965
|Gabor Szabo would later
credit his performance at 1958's Newport Jazz Festival
with the International Jazz Band as one of the best
things to happen to his career.
there, he met Nesuhi Ertegun, later president of Atlantic
Records, and drummer Chico Hamilton, who was at the time
riding a high degree of jazz notoriety. Ertegun signed
Szabo to the Atlantic label many years later in 1978, but
after Szabo produced an album the label wasn't very
excited about (FEMME FATALE), the two parted ways.
Hamilton, however, turned out to change
Szabo's life. After leaving Berklee, Szabo moved back to
California, bringing with him his new wife, Alicia. He
met Hamilton again in 1960 while both were in Los
Angeles, and Hamilton indicated he was in search of a
guitarist. Only too eager, Szabo auditioned. He was
Chico Hamilton (late 1960): Charles Lloyd (as,ts,f);
Gabor Szabo (g); poss. Nate Gershman (cello); poss. Bobby
Hayes (b); Chico Hamilton (d).
Hamilton, however, could not
assimilate Szabo's more angular individuality with
the group's famed "chamber" sound. Frankly,
Hamilton was unable to get used to the guitarist's
unique sound. Szabo was fired in late 1960 and,
thoroughly discouraged, was forced to seek employment
outside of music in property management. Charles
Lloyd went on to record briefly with Les McCann.
Shortly thereafter, Hamilton, sensing Lloyd's musical
gifts and an heir apparent to the unique Eric Dolphy,
offered the reed player the opportunity to become the
Hamilton group's musical director. It was Lloyd who
urged Hamilton to bring Szabo back to the group.
Hamilton eventually relented and invited Szabo back
in late 1961. Hamilton and Lloyd worked together to
meld a fusion of younger, individually talented
players and explore some of the new territory being
mapped out by contemporaries, John Coltrane, Booker
Ervin and former Hamilton star, Eric Dolphy. Gone
were the trappings of Hamilton's chamber experiments.
Lloyd and Hamilton had a bolder, broader reach that
The Chico Hamilton
Quintet (February 1962):
Garnett Brown (tb); Charles Lloyd (f,ts); Gabor Szabo
(g); Albert Stinson (b); Chico Hamilton (d).
This is the quintet which recorded DRUMFUSION. The "New Amazing Chico Hamilton
Quintet" began club performances in early 1962.
An early performance at the Jazz Gallery, New York,
New York, also featuring the Harry "Sweets"
Edison Quintet and Joe Williams is reviewed in the
April 11, 1962, issue of Variety. The reviewer
indicates "Chico Hamilton has junked his chamber
music concept . . . (b)ut the new format gives it
more freedom than the old concept allowed and the
effect is strong." The Variety writer
also comments briefly on the talents of all involved,
indicating "Gabor Szabo throws out some fine
guitar sounds." Later Szabo would say that even
though Hamilton "let me go free," the
guitarist tried to forget his origins and eradicate
his unique style to sound more like American
guitarists. Eventually, though, he realized
"those elements I'd wanted to get rid
of...became assets to me; I found it gave me an
individual sound. I realized that was the easiest way
for me to communicate to people."
Quintet (September 1962): George Bohannon (tb);
Charles Lloyd (f,ts); Gabor Szabo (g); Albert Stinson
(b); Chico Hamilton (d): see TRANSFUSION.
Quartet (1963): Charles Lloyd (f,ts); Gabor Szabo
(g); Albert Stinson (b); Chico Hamilton (d): see MAN FROM TWO
Charles Lloyd left the Hamilton
group in late 1963 to begin performing with the
Cannonball Adderley Sextet. His contribution to the
sextet resulted in one of Adderley's stronger studio
efforts of the period (FIDDLER ON THE ROOF).
But it was evident that Lloyd yielded the individual
authority he provided in Hamilton's outfits to the
Adderleys' already deeply-planted soul. The Adderley
experience, however, was only the inevitable
transition Lloyd sought to a solo career. By the
middle of 1964, Lloyd initiated the quartet
recordings which came to be his solo recording debut,
CL-2267/CS-9067, Sony (Jap)25DP-5317 [CD])
Quartet (January 1964):
Charles Lloyd (f,ts); Gabor Szabo (g); Albert Stinson
(b); Chico Hamilton (d).
Jimmy Woods (as,ts,f) was hired on
January 10, 1964, to replace Charles Lloyd. An
accomplished West Coast multi-reed player, Woods had
already mastered Lloyd's combination of fury and
sensitivity yet brought an animation and drive all
his own. Woods began his recording career playing
alto on Joe Gordon's outstanding record, LOOKIN'
GOOD (Contemporary S7597 and OJC 174). By
the time he hooked up with the Hamilton group, he was
frequently playing in Gerald Wilson's aggregates and
had released two accomplished, yet quickly forgotten
solo albums, including a sextet set from 1963 (CONFLICT, Contemporary M3612) featuring heavyweights
Harold Land, Carmell Jones, Andrew Hill, George
Tucker and Elvin Jones. By the time Lloyd left the
Hamilton group, though, Szabo ascended to become its
star. Armed with a strong book of Lloyd compositions,
Hamilton slowly began providing a forum for Szabo's
compositions and a showcase for Szabo's remarkable
performances. This allowed little room for Woods'
compositional abilities during his time with
Hamilton. The new Hamilton quartet's first
performances were at the Troubador in Los Angeles
with Brook Peters. According to a January 22, 1964, Variety
review of the sparsely-attended January 15
performance, the quartet performed Lloyd compositions
such as "Island Blues" (the band's theme
song) and "Voice in the Night." Szabo's
"deep crouch" performance, which was
gaining notoriety, was in evidence that evening.
Lena Horne with the
Chico Hamilton Quartet (London:
September-October 1964): Charles Lloyd (f,ts); Gabor
Szabo (g); Albert Stinson (b); Chico Hamilton (d); Lena