Chico Hamilton on his first gig

Now, A Jazz Moment...

In 1954, NEA Jazz Master Chico Hamilton put together one of the most unusual ensembles the jazz world had ever seen. Among the featured instruments were flute, guitar, and cello! Chico remembers their first gig at a club in Long Beach, California.

Chico Hamilton: This joint was a joint. With sawdust on the floor. Sawdust on the floor today would be glamorous, but it wasn't glamorous then. And it was a place for the hookers to hang out and everything. And here it is, man, this black dude comes in with a cello (laughs) and a flute (laughs)... right?

MUSIC: "The Morning After," CD: The Chico Hamilton Quintet, TOCJ-6114 (cut 5)

Chico Hamilton: We were supposed to stay a week. We ended up seven or eight months. Then a record contract with pacific jazz, went on the air, radio stations...people started coming from all over. And when our first album came out, it was a huge success.

MUSIC: up and ends

This Jazz Moment with drummer Chico Hamilton was created by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Chico Hamilton on his first gig