Ian Hamer Biography

11 September 1932, Merseyside, England, d. 3 September 2006, Brighton, England. Born into a musical family, both of Hamer’s parents were professional musicians, he took up the trumpet, later adding flügelhorn. An early engagement was in a family band, led by his mother in which two brothers also played. At 16 he became a professional musician and within a few years was launched on a career that took him into numerous distinguished musical relationships. Among many with whom Hamer played from the late 50s and on through subsequent decades are Oscar Rabin, Vic Ash, Carl Barriteau, John Dankworth, Eric Delaney, Joe Harriott, Ted Heath, as a member of Woody Herman’s Anglo-American Herd, Vic Lewis, Dick Morrissey and Jack Parnell. For many jazz fans of the era, Hamer’s most significant teaming was a spell with Tubby Hayes during which he made several albums as lead trumpeter, composer and arranger. Hayes used Hamer’s charts and compositions on some of his own dates, including one featuring guest Paul Gonsalves. Meanwhile, Hamer was an extremely busy session musician, appearing in bands supporting many noted artists including jazz musicians Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Golson, Stan Tracey and Kenny Wheeler, and pop performers the Beatles, Bing Crosby, Tom Jones, James Last and Barbra Streisand. His longest-running studio gig was some two decades as lead trumpeter on BBC Television’s Top Of The Pops.

In semi-retirement in the 90s, Hamer continued to lead his own small group in south-east England, playing with artists such as bass player Chris Laurence, tenor saxophonist Alan Skidmore and drummer Spike Wells. He also occasionally formed a big band, the Sussex Jazz Orchestra, which performed tributes to musicians such as Miles Davis and Art Blakey. A double album of Hamer’s late 60s-early 70s recordings was released in 2005, on which can be heard sextet performances that include trombonist Keith Christie, saxophonists Hayes, Morrissey, Skidmore, pianists Alan Branscombe and Harry South, bass players Ron Matthewson, Kenny Napper and Daryl Runswick, and drummers Wells and Bill Eyden, and provide fine examples not only of this musician’s work but also of British jazz of the period.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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