It’s with sadness that I heard the great Chico Hamilton passed away yesterday. I’ve always had a fond memory of Chico Hamilton, and it’s connected with a guy I call the Old Man. The Old Man, or Samurai Mike, is a record dealer I have referenced many times. He was a man that had great records and loved to talk vinyl. Despite the fact he declared everything “rare” (a lot of times they weren’t, he just wanted to sweeten the pot), he sold me records for a decent amount of time before finally closing his eyes for good. It could be 20 degrees out and I’d be in a parka with gloves, scarf and hat, and Mike would be hanging out with no hat, Members Only jacket and a thin button up on. I only saw him get mad once, and even then, he just walked away shaking his head. I bought a few Chico Hamilton records off of him, as his taste ran the gamut of Jazz, Doo Wop, Rockabilly, Funk and Soul. Mike’s records were always clean, and his prices fair. I would look forward to every Saturday morning, when we’d meet up at his table and he would hand over a brown paper bag full of Lps and 45s. He wouldn’t sell them to anyone else until after I passed the unwanteds up (which I normally didn’t, I just bought the whole lot), and that kind of stuff meant a lot to me. This particular record, The New Amazing Chico Hamilton Quintet, Passin’ Thru features some excellent players in Charles Lloyd on tenor sax and flute, Al Stinson on bass, George Bohanon on trombone, Gabo Szabo on guitar, and of course Chico on the drums. This was his fifth quintet, the first on Impulse! imprint, and I’ll always remember The Old Man telling me how much he loved Chico, and while this wasn’t rare, it was a Mono copy, so that was a bonus for a young buck like me. Filled with spirits of Hard Bop throughout, he’d sell me records by artists like Chico, and others featuring Jackie McLean or Albert Ayler, always with a story about their discography, when he saw them live in NYC, and what the best record by them was to dig up. He had a child, who he was always bailing out of some trouble, but no wife. He’d always say “records and a wife don’t mix”, but myself and others would beg to differ. Over the years I’d get some really terrific Jazz on Lp and a giant chunk of Funk and Soul 45s that I bought by the dozens from the old boy. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to say goodbye to Mike. I bought records from him as usual and a few months passed with bad weather, no digging, and then he was gone. His record collection scavenged by unsympathetic vultures who ripped off his unsuspecting, grieving family. So as we say goodbye to one helluva Jazz drummer at the age of 92, I want to say goodbye to Old Man Mike as well once again, after all, we are all just “Passin’ Thru”. respect goes out to Chico Hamilton and his family at this time. He was one of the great Jazz drummers. Rest In Peace.
Listen to The Amazing New Chico Hamilton Quintet – Passin’ Thru: