The Clayton Brothers
John and Jeff Clayton made their first recording together in the late 1970s and so marks the official inception of The Clayton Brothers as a working ensemble. At that time it was a quintet with Patrice Rushin on piano and Ron Eschete on guitar, and Jeff Hamilton on drums. Over the next ten years they played occasional gigs but all were busy pursuing their own individual careers. In 1985, when John left his five-year stint with the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and re-located back in California, the group re-formed, this time with Bill Cunliffe on piano. Terell Stafford joined the group in 2000. Today the Grammy nominated quintet is an ever-evolving work-in-progress, fueled by the cohesion and creativity of the two brothers and now invigorated by new young blood - John's son Gerald on piano and Obed Calvaire on drums (both of whom joined the group in 2008). The fifth chair is still held by seasoned trumpeter Terell Stafford, a renowned band leader and educator in his own right. In addition to guiding the quintet's journey of musical growth, the brothers believe in sharing what it is they know. Their dedication as jazz educators leads them to participate in workshops and music clinics around the world.
John Clayton began his bass career in Junior High School playing in strings class, junior orchestra, high school jazz band, orchestra, and soul/R&B groups. In 1969, at the age of 16, he enrolled in bassist Ray Brown's jazz class at UCLA, beginning a close relationship that lasted more than three decades. After graduating from Indiana University's School of Music with a degree in bass performance in 1975, he toured with the Monty Alexander Trio (1975-77), the Count Basie Orchestra (1977-79), and settled in as principal bassist with the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in Amsterdam, Netherlands (1980-85). He was also a bass instructor at The Royal Conservatory, The Hague, Holland from 1980-83. In 1985 he returned to California, co-founded the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra with Jeff Hamilton and Jeff Clayton, rekindled the The Clayton Brothers quintet, and taught part-time bass at Cal State Long Beach, UCLA and USC. In 1988 he joined the faculty of the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, where he taught until 2009. Now, in addition to individual clinics, workshops, and private students as schedule permits, John also directs the educational components associated with the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, Centrum Festival, and Vail Jazz Party. With a Grammy on his shelf and eight additional nominations, artists such as Diana Krall, Paul McCartney, Regina Carter, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Gladys Knight, Queen Latifah, and Charles Aznavour vie for a spot on his crowded calendar.
Jeff Clayton, three years John's junior, began playing clarinet at age 9. By age 14 he added the Alto Sax and the Flute later becoming an Oboe major at CSUN where he was able to add other related instruments from the woodwind family which included the Tenor and Baritone saxes, Alto Flute and Piccolo, the English horn, and the Bass Clarinet. At the end of his third year attending Northridge he auditioned toured and recorded with Stevie Wonder for 2–1/2 years. His years as a studio musician also allowed him to play with such icons as Gladys Knight, Kenny Rogers, Michael Jackson, Patti Labelle, and Madonna. Others who requested his big warm tones on their bandstands were Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton, and Lena Horne. Jeff also played in the Count Basie Orchestra under the direction of Basie and later under the direction of Thad Jones, and was a member of the Phillip Morris Superb and. He also toured with Gene Harris, Dianne Reeves, Joe Cocker, B.B. King and Ray Charles.
Gerald Clayton began to study classical piano at age 6. At 17, he enrolled in the Jazz Studies program at the University of Southern California. In college in Los Angeles and a year at the Manhattan School of Music, Gerald studied piano and composition under Shelly Berg, Billy Childs, and Kenny Barron. Professionally, Gerald has had the honor of performing nationally and internationally with some of the most established names in Jazz such as Lewis Nash, Al Foster, Terrell Stafford and Clark Terry. Duo piano concerts with Gerald have featured artists as celebrated and diverse as Hank Jones, Benny Green, Kenny Barron, Mulgrew Miller and Tamir Hendelman. From 2006-2008, Gerald toured extensively with Roy Hargrove in his quintet, big band, and funk group and he is currently a member of the Clayton Brothers Quintet while also leading his own Trio that records and performs internationally. Gerald has already earned three Grammy nominations.
Obed Calvaire grew up in Miami where he played in church. By age 12 he knew he wanted to be a musician and he played his first professional gig at age 14. Miami was awash with Latin, jazz and pop sounds. Obed went to see Gonzalo Rubalcaba and was mesmerized by drummer Ignacio Berroa; by his senior year in high school he got to study with him. He went to jazz concerts and clinics too, meeting trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and trombonist Steve Turre who both encouraged Obed to call them if he ever made the move to NY. Meanwhile, while in high school Obed auditioned and was accepted into the Grammy Band., There he met Justin DiCioccio, chair of jazz dept at Manhattan School of Music. By fall of 2000, Obed was living in NYC and he did call upon Marsalis and Turre, both of whom hired him for engagements. While he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Manhattan School of Music in 2003 and 2005, respectively, he was also working with, Mark Murphy, Stefon Harris, Eric Reed, Buster Williams, Peter Cincotti, and performing in large ensembles such as the Village Vanguard Orchestra, the Mingus Big Band and the Bob Mintzer Big Band. Obed joined The Clayton Brothers in 2008, and in addition to his engagements with them, he is also currently performing with Monty Alexander, Yosvanny Terry, Mike Stern, Richard Bona and others.
Terell Stafford picked up his first trumpet at the age of thirteen, and even though he was drawn to jazz, initially studied classical music. While pursuing a music education degree at the University of Maryland, Stafford played with the school’s jazz band. In 1988, on the advice of Wynton Marsalis, Terell began to study with Dr. William Fielder at Rutgers University. During his time at Rutgers, Stafford was invited to join Bobby Watson’s group, Horizon. Over the next five years, Stafford was able to balance his offstage education with the incredible knowledge and experience he gained from performing alongside Watson, co-leader Victor Lewis, and Shirley Scott. Stafford credits this time with teaching him to be an effective arranger, a composer, and a bandleader. Since the mid-1990’s Stafford has performed with groups such as Benny Golson’s Sextet, McCoy Tyner’s Sextet, the Kenny Barron Sextet, the Jimmy Heath Big Band, and the Jon Faddis Orchestra. Currently he is a member of the GRAMMY award winning Vanguard Jazz Orchestra (GRAMMY 2009, Best Large Ensemble, Live at the Village Vanguard), as well as a member of the GRAMMY nominated Clayton Brothers Quintet (for Best Instrumental Composition), and the Frank Wess Quintet. Terell is the Director of Jazz Studies at Temple University.
The Clayton Brothers Recordings
* Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group.
The Gathering (Artistshare, 2012)
* The New Song and Dance (Artistshare, 2010) - Grammy nomination
* Brother To Brother (Artistshare, 2008)
Back in the Swing of Things (Hyena, 2005)
Sib-ling-i-ty (Qwest/Warner Bros., 2000)
Expressions (Warner Bros., 1997)
The Music (Capri, 1991)
It's All in the Family (Concord, 1980, LP)
The Clayton Brothers (Concord, 1978, LP)
1. Rudresh Mahanthappa & Bunky Green: Apex (Pi)
2. Clayton Brothers: The New Song and Dance (ArtistShare)
3. Geri Allen: Flying Toward the Sound (Motema)
4. Danilo Perez: Providencia (Mack Avenue)
5. Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis: Vitoria Suite
6. Richie Beirach & Dave Liebman: Quest for Freedom (Sunnyside)
7. Regina Carter: Reverse Thread (E1)
8. John Hébert:
Spiritual Lover (Clean Feed)
9. Lionel Loueke: Mwaliko (Blue Note)
10. Brad Mehldau: Highway Rider (Nonesuch)
The New Song And
The Clayton Brothers
| ArtistShare By Dan
There was a time when jazz and
dance were linked in the minds of the general public. As each evolved, this all
changed: nobody was getting up to dance for bop--save, perhaps, Thelonious Monk cutting a rug
mid-performance--and big bands focused on their music more than making a
The literal act of dancing might have been removed from close association with this
music, but a segment of the music never altered its dance-worthy DNA. Foot
tap-inducing grooves still get people riled up at jazz clubs and, though they
don't jump out of their seats to bust a move, their body language says they
want to. This idea is at the core of The Clayton Brothers' The New Song And Dance, a dynamic set that's brimming with energy, soul and intelligence. While the brothers-- bassist John Clayton and saxophonist Jeff Clayton--reference a wide cross-section of dance styles, break dancing to tango, they never play to stereotypes within
The brothers are both the face of the group and the major compositional forces
behind the music, but all five musicians are marquee-worthy talents. Trumpeter Terell Stafford contributes fiery melodies in tandem with Jeff Clayton (”Smarty Pants Dants”); delivers solo work that's
dripping with soul (”Cha Cha Charleston”); and plays nice on the material thatcalls for a more measured approach (”Terell's Song”). Gerald Clayton demonstrates incredible
flexibility throughout, easily shifting from slick, understated accompanist
(”Terell's Song”) to fire-breathing soloist on “Battle Circle,” a dark,
pulsating nod to the pianist's break dancing past, and the album's most unique
composition. Drummer Obed Calvaire might be the least well-known
presence here, but he has quickly developed into one of the finest drumming
forces of his generation, one who can play things fairly straight (”Chicago Bop
Steppin”); deliver some second-line strut (”Street Dance”); dip his sticks into
the rivers of Latin music (”Soul Tango”); or create grooves that are all his
own (”Battle Circle”).
While dance is the topic of the day, drama works its way into the music on the least
dance-oriented track, Stevie Wonder's “They Won't Go When I Go.” The
artistic range of the brothers Clayton is on full display here, with Gerald
providing super-sensitive support. John's classically influenced arco work sets
the mood at both ends of the piece, while Jeff's alto flute builds on that
idea. Jeff switches to alto saxophone mid-track, and the music reaches its apex
with some molten saxophone maneuvers before becoming withdrawn and melancholy
once again. A bit of a detour from the general vibe of the record, but its
musical virtues merit inclusion and help to provide a better-rounded picture of
While only two members in this group are blood brothers, all five men are
brothers-in-arms, and the music on The
New Song And Dance transcends both its titular art forms.
Cha Cha Charleston; Soul Tango; Battle Circle; Terell's Song; Smarty Pants
Dants; The New Song And Dance; They Won't Go When I Go; Chicago Bop Steppin';
Jeff Clayton: alto saxophone, alto flute; John Clayton: bass; Terell Stafford:
trumpet, flugelhorn; Gerald Clayton: piano; Obed Calvaire: drums.