Reed player Jeff Clayton began his career as both a touring and studio musician. He recorded important albums with, among others, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Kenny Rodgers, Michael Jackson, Patti LaBelle, Earth, Wind & Fire, and a solo on Madonna's recording "Back in Business."
As a jazz musician, Jeff Clayton has worked with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton, Lena Horne, McCoy Tyner, and DeeDee Bridgewater.
In Jeff's words, "From Thad Jones, who led the Count Basie Orchestra when I was in the band the second time, I learned the art of rehearsal — how to give musicians the support they needed to create without restrictions. He had a wonderful heart.
"From my lifelong association with Ray Brown, I learned about expression, being yourself no matter what, and to do what you do best. 'Push through the music phrase,' Ray would say. 'Put it out there.' He left a void in our lives.
"From years in the studio and on stage with Frank Sinatra, I was shown how to embrace long phrases and how to just state the melody. Benny Carter told me, 'The writer wrote the melody for a reason, Jeff.'"
Jeff continues with, "Music is not mine to keep, only to have and to hold... I must give back what I have been so freely given, so I spend a good amount of time teaching."
Jeff taught at USC from 2000-2004 and at UCLA from 1998 to 2002. Jeff can be found at jazz camps across the country as well, such as Vail Jazz Camp, Stanford Jazz Camp, The University of Notre Dame camp and most recently the Port Townsend Jazz Camp.
Jeff is also a co-leader in the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and in The Clayton Brothers quintet.
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