College of Music Program Book 2011-2012: Ensemble & Other Performances, Volume 3 Page: 8
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The patience he exhibits with his students...
The provocative notes he chooses when he composes...
The empathy he shows when he produces....
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. Grammy-winning 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. Clayton says, "When composing or arranging for the
Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, I am a disciple of Duke Ellington, Thad Jones, Oliver Nelson, Quincy Jones
and Gil Evans, to name just a few." Regarding his bowing techniques, he cites the radically different techniques of
Slam Stewart, Major Holley and Paul Chambers as influences. There is no doubt, however, that John has created
a niche for himself wherein he stands alone.
As a testament to his immense talent and broad ranging appeal, John Clayton served as the Artistic Director of Jazz
for the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1999 through 2001. In addition, he is Artistic Director for the Centrum
Jazz Workshop in Port Townsend, Washington and was also appointed Artistic Director for the Lionel Hampton
International Jazz Festival in 2006. 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, Gladys Knight, Regina Carter, Queen Latifah and many others. He has been
commissioned by many ensembles, including the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, American Jazz Philharmonic,
Iceland Symphony, Metropole Orchestra, Carnegie Hall Big Band, Richmond Symphony, WDR Orchestra, and
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.
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 in an intensive week of learning jazz. Last year, he was also appointed as 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. He
held the principal bass position in the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra for more than five years. The Grammy-
nominated Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra is co-led by John, his brother, saxophonist Jeff Clayton, and drummer
Jeff Hamilton. Also, John co-leads with Jeff, the Clayton Brothers Quintet, who have been nominated for two
Grammy awards. In an effort to sum up John Clayton's unique expertise, "the man just does it all." He is equally
comfortable in jazz and classical music, and hits the mark, whether it is as composer, arranger, conductor, or
teacher, in addition to his magnificence when he plays his bass.
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University of North Texas. College of Music. College of Music Program Book 2011-2012: Ensemble & Other Performances, Volume 3, book, 2012; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc114725/m1/8/: accessed January 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Music Library.