12 September 1954, Providence, Rhode Island, USA. As a child, Hamilton began playing clarinet, on which he had a few lessons, and piano. He then briefly played blues harmonica in a rock n roll band. He took up tenor saxophone as a young teenager, teaching himself largely by listening to records in his fathers collection. These records were by jazzmen of the 30s and 40s, and Hamilton appeared on the scene as an apparent throwback to those times, recreating the tenor styling of the likes of Ben Webster. As such he was rapturously received by audiences who thought players in this style were long defunct. He worked extensively in and around New York, often teaming up with Warren Vaché, similarly regarded as an important addition to the fading jazz mainstream.
Hamiltons success in the late 70s led to his appearing with many leading jazzmen and performing at prestigious venues and major festivals in the USA and overseas. His ready success brought with it some personal problems and to some extent inhibited his growth as a stylist in his own right. By the early 80s, however, he had overcome all such problems and occasionally reverted to his early habit of playing in the manner of Webster, he was clearly his own man. He had also become a major figure on the international jazz stage. Most of his numerous concert and record album appearances are under his own name, but he has also appeared as a sideman in bands led by Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Vaché, John Bunch and Bill Berry. In addition, he has been teamed up with Ruby Braff, Charlie Byrd, and on Back To Back and Scotts Buddy he duetted with veteran tenor saxophonist Buddy Tate. In the 90s and 00s Hamilton was still hugely popular on the festival circuit, appearing as leader or as principal soloist with all-star groups such as Newport Jazz Festival All-Stars and the Concord Jazz All-Stars.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.