Jeff Hamilton - influenced by his parents big band records at a young age, was inspired to at age eight to begin playing drums to the records of the great Oscar Peterson. Today he is featured with some of the top names in jazz and pop on more than 200 recordings, 22 of which received Grammy® nominations. He also performs and records frequently with his own trio and as co-leader of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. His own albums include the recently released Great American Songs: Through the Years, and earlier efforts Symbiosis, and Red Sparkle. Additionally, he teaches, arranges and composes. Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Mel Lewis, “Philly” Joe Jones, and Shelly Manne were important influences. Early engagements included the New Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and Lionel Hampton’s Band before joining the Monty Alexander Trio in 1975 with bassist John Clayton. From 1983 to 1987, he performed with Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie & His Orchestra, and Rosemary Clooney. Prior to forming his own trio in 1995, Jeff played with the Ray Brown Trio. The Los Angeles Jazz Society named Jeff Musician of the Year, and he was recently voted #1 Jazz Drummer in Modern Drummer Magazine’s reader’s poll.
Akiko Tsuruga has been a regular on the New York jazz scene as a B3 player since her arrival in 2001. Almost immediately, she began working with artists like Jimmy Cobb, Frank Hess, and Lou Donaldson, whose quartet she joined in 2007. As a bandleader, she has toured internationally and released several acclaimed albums, garnering extensive radio play and “rising star” designations in DownBeat reader’s polls.
“Akiko's playing is like watching a flower blooming, a bird spreading her wings in the music world. Akiko is here to stay.” – organ legend Dr. Lonnie Smith.
Graham Decheter, an accomplished guitarist, composer and arranger, plays with the kind of swinging authority and seasoned maturity that belies his young age. The 26-year-old Los Angeles native, a member of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra since he was 19, shows a deep reverence for the jazz guitar tradition in his warm-toned renditions of ballads, bossas, bebop and blues. A formidable soloist and consummate accompanist, he imbues standards with rare enthusiasm and an inherent bluesiness while carving out his own path with several affecting original compositions.
A talent deserving of wider recognition, Dechter follows in the lineage of his guitar heroes like Wes Montgomery, Barney Kessel, Grant Green and Herb Ellis. Traces of the Kessel and Ellis influence can be heard on Dechter’s debut as a leader, 2009’s soulfully swinging Right On Time (Capri), which featured the all-world rhythm section of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra in pianist Tamir Hendelman, bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton. Those three stellar talents were also on the guitarist’s 2012 follow up, Takin’ It There (Capri).
Dechter’s burgeoning list of credits includes work with saxophonists Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Frank Wess, Charles McPherson and James Moody, guitarists John Pizzarelli, Bucky Pizzarelli, Mundell Lowe and Russell Malone, organists Larry Goldings and Atsuko Hashimoto, singers Jon Hendricks, Nancy Wilson and Kurt Elling, violinist Regina Carter, pianists Billy Taylor, Freddie Cole, Benny Green and Bill Charlap, clarinetist Paquito D'Rivera, trombonists Curtis Fuller and Wycliffe Gordon and trumpeters Terell Stafford, Clark Terry, Snooky Young and Wynton Marsalis.