The CLAYTON-HAMILTON JAZZ ORCHESTRA (CHJO) is an awesome machine that has flourished over the course of 21 years under inspired and dedicated leadership. "We've worked at creating a family here, rather than just pulling together super players," said John Clayton. In December 2003, CHJO was named the best big band in America by the readers of Downbeat, and in 2004, Jazz Times rated the band #2.
In 2005, CHJO released Live at Manchester Craftsmen's Guild to commemorate their 20th anniversary. This CD topped the radio charts for a full seven weeks. John Clayton was nominated for a Grammy for arranging for the CD. In 2005, the orchestra had the privilege of recording with Diana Krall and is featured prominently in her Christmas CD, which was released in November. In 2006, the band recorded with the legendary Gladys Knight and also backed Diana Krall's new CD, From This Moment On, which was recently nominated for a Grammy.
From 1998 to 2001, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra served as the resident jazz orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl. CHJO, co-led by bassist John Clayton, his brother, reed player Jeff Clayton, and drummer Jeff Hamilton, received critical and commercial praise generated by their rousing live concerts and festival performances and award-winning recordings. CHJO's Grammy-nominated recording, Groove Shop, was named by CD Review as one of the best recordings of 1990.
From 1998 through 2001, John Clayton served as the Artistic Director of Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, where he conducted the orchestra and composed most of the music for the CHJO. John was awarded a platinum record for his stirring arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner" performed by Whitney Houston during the 1990 Super Bowl. He has received a total of six Grammy nominations.
John's brother, co-leader Jeff Clayton, has also imprinted the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra with his considerable musical abilities. He recorded important albums with, among others, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Kenny Rogers, Michael Jackson, Patti LaBelle, and Earth, Wind & Fire, and a solo on Madonna's recording Back in Business. As a jazz musician, he has worked with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton, Lena Horne, McCoy Tyner, and Dee Dee Bridgewater.
Jeff Hamilton and John Clayton have known each other since they were students at Indiana University. Jeff spent nine years in Ray Brown's trio, developing a telepathic musical interaction with Brown and a deep respect for his consummate professionalism. In addition to leading his own band, Jeff has performed with Oscar Peterson, Monty Alexander, and the WDR Big Band.