The sheer wizardry of his arco bass playing, the patience he exhibits with his students, the provocative notes he chooses when he composes, the empathy he shows when he procures, the scintillating sounds he coaxes from musicians when he conducts pale in comparison to his charisma when you just hear him swing! And swing he does. Four–time Grammy nominated bassist/composer/conductor John Clayton's talents are consistently requested by the movers and shakers in the jazz industry, such as Quincy Jones and Tommy Lipuma.
John has written and arranged music for Diana Krall, DeeDee Bridgewater (including her Grammy award-winning CD "Dear Ella"), Natalie Cole, Milt Jackson, Nancy Wilson, Quincy Jones, George Benson, Dr. John, Regina Carter and others. He has been commissioned by many ensembles including the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, the American Jazz Philharmonic, The Iceland Symphony, The Metropole Orchestra, The Carnegie Hall Big Band, The Richmond Symphony, the WDR Orchestra, and the Amsterdam Philharmonic. On the other hand, John was awarded a platinum record for his stirring arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner" performed by Whitney Houston during the Super Bowl in 1990. He has won numerous awards such as the Golden Feather Award given to him by the legendary Leonard Feather and the Los Angeles Jazz Society's Composer/Arranger award. Most recently, he won a Grammy award for his arrangements on Queen Latifah's latest record, Trav'lin' Light.
John has served as the musical director of several jazz festivals including the Sarasota Jazz Festival and the Santa Fe Jazz Party. As artistic director of the Vail Jazz Workshop, he participates in choosing talented students from across the nation for an intensive week of learning jazz. He is currently the artistic director for the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival.
Clayton's serious study of the double bass began at age 16 when he studied with famed bassist, Ray Brown. At age 19, John was the bassist for Henry Mancini's television series "The Mancini Generation." Later he completed his studies at Indiana University in 1975, graduating with a bachelor of music in double bass. Touring with Monty Alexander and the Count Basie Orchestra followed. The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra is co–led by John, his brother, saxophonist, Jeff Clayton, and drummer, Jeff Hamilton. John co-leads the Clayton Brothers Quintet with Jeff as well.
In an effort to sum up John Clayton's unique expertise: "The man just does it all."
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