John Clayton

June 9, 2009

The Clayton Brothers Quartet

Since the late ’70s, The Clayton Brothers Quartet has showcased the unique talents of, and symbiotic musical relationship between, Jeff and John Clayton.

An acclaimed musician and Grammy Award winner for his arrangement on Queen Latifah’s 2008 disc, Travlin Light, John is also a passionate jazz educator. Currently artistic director for the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival, the Vail Jazz Camp, and the Port Townsend Jazz Camp, John was featured on the cover of JazzTimes “Education Resource Guide” with his brother Jeff as “jazz educators of the year” in 2004.

In addition to lending his considerable talents as a bassist to numerous jazz and classical projects, Jeff has arranged and written material for the likes of Diana Krall, Quincy Jones, McCoy Tyner, Nancy Wilson, Milt Jackson, and Regina Carter, among many others.

In addition to Jeff (reeds) and John, The Clayton Brothers Quartet currently also features Terell Stafford (trumpet), Obed Calvaire (drums), and John’s son, Gerald Clayton (piano).

1. The Awakening Jeremy Lubbock

This album remains a lesson in gorgeous string writing.

2. Ahmad Jamal

Although my favorites are the recordings he made with Israel Crosby (but not, for me, Gal in Calico) on bass, anything Ahmad does is stellar.

3. The Trio Ray Brown, Oscar Peterson

I mention these two together because they had such amazing chemistry, but I loved the groups they led with other musicians. Any of their CDs are fantastic start with The Trio.

4. Les Cargos L’orchestre De Contrebasses

When I need a good “bass fix,” this group does amazing things with our beloved instrument. This album is a good one to begin with.

5. Edgar Meyer

He’s just amazingly bad. I love everything he does, but find myself going back to his Bach Suites.

6. Getting’ to It Christian McBride

Standing next to him for years worked as a reminder that he has something you can’t pinpoint. He bleeds music. I Love everything he does.

7. Two Shade Gerald Clayton

Fun to see where my son is taking this music. I adore his trio and look forward to their upcoming release on ArtistShare.

8. The Messenger Kurt Elling

No one embraces jazz vocally with the seriousness and depth that this guy does. I Love all that he has recorded.

9. Bach, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Debussy, Ravel, Ellington

The masters. There are more, of course, but anything by these gents is worth listening to and studying.

10. Taylor Eigsti (piano), Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet), Sachal Vasandani (vocal)

These are some of the amazing talents that rise to the top for me, so I’m going to cheat and combine three recordings into my last selection. Like with Gerald, I love seeing where they take things. Taylor: Lucky to Be Me; Ambrose: Prelude to Cora; Sachal: Eyes Wide Open.

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