Photo credit: Russ Escritt
The BBC has reported the death of saxophonist Andy Hamilton earkier today at the age of 94. A major figure in British jazz, he went on playing and inspiring in the West Midlands until a few months ago. He was awarded the MBE for services to music in Birmingham in 2008. He passed away peacefully. RIP. Here is how Peter Bacon of Birmingham’s Jazz Breakfast blog reports the news.
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Andrew Raphael Thomas Hamilton MBE (born Port Maria, Jamaica 26th March 1918. Died 3rd June 2012)
A JAZZ LEGEND, WILL BE SADLY MISSED, WITH FOND MEMORIES RIP. JEANETTE SPIERS (NEE: PARKER)
In the early 1980s I did a weekly jazz show on BRMB Radio in Birmingham. One evening I took a call from someone with a distinctive accent asking me to plug the weekly Tuesday night gig he had at Rusty Lee’s Caribbean restaurant. It was Andy Hamilton, who at that stage seemed to have slipped into relative anonymity. Andy invited me down to the gig and when he found out I played a bit of jazz trumpet, invited me to sit in with the band. A couple of years later when BRMB needed to spend some ad revenue money on live music (under its MU agreement) I organised a four date tour for the Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra with Kenny Baker and Kathy Stobart around the Birmingham fringes. I booked Andy’s quartet, plus his son Graham on Trumpet, as the opening act. I last saw Andy at the Swanage Jazz Festival about four years ago. He recognised me straight away. As ever, he was elegant, charming, a wonderful character and still full of jazz energy at 90. A uniquely distinctive voice has left us.
Chris Parker writes:
I only met Andy Hamilton once (at Lord's cricket ground, where he'd been invited to meet the West Indies team featuring its then newest batting sensation, Brian Lara), but was very impressed by his genuine warmth and charm, not to mention his modesty concerning what was an extraordinary career in music.
As Paul Kelly says, he was also as interested in you as you were in him; we had a deeply enjoyable reminisce about the legendary West Indies team led by Clive Lloyd, then a long chat about Hollywood legends he'd known (chief among them Errol Flynn), then a discussion of contemporary UK jazz – & on all these topics he was as keen to hear opinions as to express his own. At his concert the same evening (at the Jazz Cafe in Camden) he played beautifully, mixing Webster-ish tenor with Caribbean rhythms; he'll be much missed, a true gentleman of jazz.