Drumming extraordinaire, Jeff Hamilton, leads his organ trio, with talented organist, Akiko Tsuraga, and guitar sensation, Graham Dechter to perform an evening of hot straight ahead jazz and blues, from traditional favorites from the Great American Songbook to classics, standards, and originals that really swing. Versatile drummer, arranger, composer, bandleader, sideman, and educator Jeff Hamilton, swings with the best and is accomplished as a most technically sound drummer. Hamilton is one of the most in-demand dynamic drummers in jazz today. Jeff has recorded and performed with Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, The Clayton Brothers, and co-leads The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Hamilton’s recordings have been among the top played jazz recordings on The National Jazz Radio Charts, largely as a credit to Jeff’s colorful, sensitive, and sizzling playing. Hamilton is an intelligent and spirited drummer who plays at a high standard, employing amazing hand drumming techniques, the use of soft and understated brushes, and is riveting playing the drumsticks. In his early years, growing up in Indiana, Jeff listened to his parent’s Big Band Records, and began playing the drums at the age of 8 to Oscar Peterson Records. At Indiana University, Hamilton studied with John Von Ohlen, and was influenced by drummers Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Mel Lewis, Philly Joe Jones, and Shelly Manne. Jeff first started with The New Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, then joined The Lionel Hampton Band, and next with Bassist John Clayton became a member of The Monty Alexander Trio. From there Hamilton played and recorded several albums with Woody Herman and His Thundering Herd. Next Jeff replaced drummer Shelly Manne, and became part of The L.A. 4 with Ray Brown, Bud Shank, and Laurinda Almeida, contributing his own arrangements and compositions on 6 of the group’s recordings. For the next 5 years, Hamilton performed with Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie’s Orchestra, Rosemary Clooney, and Monty Alexander. For the next 8 years, Jeff played with Ray Brown’s Trio before starting his own Trio. For 3 years, The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra was the in-residence ensemble for The Hollywood Bowl Jazz Series. In 2006, The L.A. Jazz Society named Jeff Hamilton and John Clayton Musicians of the Year. Hamilton currently tours with his own Trio, with The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, and with Diana Krall. Jeff has appeared on nearly 200 recordings with artists that include Natalie Cole, Diana Krall, Milt Jackson, Ted Nash, Jackie and Roy, Laurinda Almeida, Dianne Schuur, Herb Alpert, Renee Olstead, Stacey Kent, Bob Cooper, Lanny Morgan, Judy Roberts, Rosemary Clooney, Barbra Streisand, Mel Torme, John Pizzarelli, Benny Carter, Lalo Schifrin, George Shearing, Dr. John, Ray Brown, Benny Green, Clark Terry, Gene Harris, Michael Buble, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Scott Hamilton, Harry Sweets Edison, Bill Holman, Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel, Mark Murphy, Paul Kuhn, and Cory Weeds. Hamilton is a frequent guest of The WDR Band in Cologne, Germany, has appeared in Natalie Cole’s Great Performance PBS Special, and Oscar Peterson’s Documentary, Life in the Key of Oscar. Jeff has over a dozen recordings as a leader, and has played with over 20 different Jazz Groups, including with Bob Summer, Larry Fuller, Snooky Young, Anthony Wilson, Tom Talbert, and Vic Lewis.
Organist Akiko Tsuraga is an accomplished composer and extraordinary performer who has received high accolades from saxophonist Lou Donaldson, calling her “The Queen of the Organ”. Organist Dr. Lonnie Smith says “Akiko’s playing is like watching a flower blooming and a bird spreading her wings in the music world. Akiko is here to stay.” Tsuraga’s playing complements fellow musicians on stage to sound as good as possible, sharing a common joy, and an intensely positive energy for great musical experiences. Akiko’s style is light, and can shift from playing funky boogaloo to be-bop to blues. Tsuraga has played in Lou Donaldson’s band since 2007 at New York’s Carnegie Hall, The Village Vanguard, and Dizzy’ Club. Akiko began playing the organ at the age of 3, and includes organists Jimmy Smith, Brother Jack McDuff, Charles Earland, Jimmy McGriff, and her mentor and teacher, Dr Lonnie Smith as influences. Tsuraga has 7 recordings as a leader and ranks as one of today’s top organists. She is the real deal.
Graham Dechter is a joyful, warm sounding guitarist who seriously swings on clean arrangements at a high level of intensity, playing beautiful lines. Graham’s spirited improvisational playing has virtuosity, maturity, and a technical perfection from his dedication to playing straight ahead jazz. Dechter has a dazzling and exuberant style that is skillful, tasteful, and flowing. Graham has 2 recordings as a leader and has appeared on numerous recordings as a sideman. A member of The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Dechter has deep reverence for the Jazz Guitar Tradition, soloing and accompanying on Blues, Bossas, Be-Bop, and Blues much in the tradition of Wes Montgomery, Barney Kessel, Grant Green, and Herb Ellis. Graham includes Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, Ben Webster, B.B. King, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Lee Morgan, The Great American Songbook, The Music of Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, and Cole Porte as influences.. Graham was born into a musical family, his mother Maureen, was in musical theatre, and his father Brad, is a renowned orchestrator and composer, who has worked on over 250 film scores for artists like Johnny Mathis and Barbra Streisand. Dechter studied the violin at the age of 5 and composed orchestral pieces. Graham early on listened to the records of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Nat King Cole, and their sounds and vibe grew into his guitar playing. Dechter studied improvisation with Bassist Marshall Hawkins at the Idyllwild Arts Academy, and it was life changing. Graham further studied for a year at Eastman School of Music, before joining The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra at the age of 19. Later Dechter studied with and received high praise from guitarist Larry Koonse. Graham has toured worldwide, played major festivals, on T.V. specials with singer Michael Buble, and worked with Eliane Elias, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Frank Wess, Charles McPherson, James Moody, John and Bucky Pizzarelli, Mundell Lowe, Russell Malone, Larry Goldings, Atsuko Hashimoto, Jon Hendricks, Nancy Wilson, Kurt Elling, Ron Carter, Billy Taylor, Freddie Cole, Benny Green, Bill Charlap, Paquito D’Rivera, Curtis Fuller, Wycliffe Gordon, Terell Stafford, Clark Terry, Snooky Young, and Wynton Marsalis.