CHICO HAMILTON, DRUMMER, BANDLEADER AND EXPONENT OF COOL JAZZ
By PETER KEEPNEWS
Published: November 26, 2013
- Chico Hamilton, a drummer and bandleader who helped put California on the modern-jazz map in the 1950s and remained active into the 21st century, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 92.
Chico Hamilton, who had made a name for himself as a drummer, in the 1950s took the bold, unusual step of becoming a bandleader as well, and later a composer.
His death was announced by April Thibeault, his publicist.
Never among the flashiest or most muscular of jazz drummers, Mr. Hamilton had a subtle and melodic approach that made him ideally suited for the understated style that came to be known as cool jazz, of which his hometown, Los Angeles, was the epicenter.
He was a charter member of the baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan’s quartet, which helped lay the groundwork for the cool movement. His own quintet, which he formed shortly after leaving the Mulligan group, came to be regarded as the quintessence of cool. With its quiet intensity, its intricate arrangements and its uniquely pastel instrumentation of flute, guitar, cello, bass and drums — the flutist, Buddy Collette, also played alto saxophone — the Chico Hamilton Quintet became one of the most popular groups in jazz. (The cellist in that group, Fred Katz, died in September.)
The group was a mainstay of the nightclub and jazz festival circuit and even appeared in movies. It was prominently featured in the 1957 film “Sweet Smell of Success,” with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. (One character in that movie, a guitarist played by Martin Milner, was a member of the Hamilton group on screen, miming to the playing of the quintet’s real guitarist, John Pisano.) And it was seen in “Jazz on a Summer’s Day,” Bert Stern’s acclaimed documentary about the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.
Cool jazz had fallen out of favor by the mid-1960s, but by then Mr. Hamilton had already altered the sound and style of his quintet, replacing the cellist with a trombonist and adopting a bluesier, more aggressive approach.
In 1966, after more personnel changes and more shifts in audience tastes, Mr. Hamilton, no longer on top of the jazz world but increasingly interested in composing — he wrote the music for Roman Polanski’s 1965 film, “Repulsion” — disbanded the quintet and formed a company that provided music for television shows and commercials.
But he continued to perform and record occasionally, and by the mid-1970s he was back on the road as a bandleader full time. He was never again as big a star as he had been in the 1950s, but he remained active, and his music became increasingly difficult to categorize, incorporating elements of free jazz, jazz-rock fusion and other styles.
He was born Foreststorn Hamilton in Los Angeles on Sept. 21, 1921. His father, Jesse, worked at the University Club of Southern California, and his mother, Pearl Lee Gonzales Cooley Hamilton, was a school dietitian.
Asked by Marc Myers of the website JazzWax how he got the name Chico, he said he wasn’t sure but thought he acquired it as a teenager because “I was always a small dude.”
While still in high school he immersed himself in the local jazz scene, and by 1940 he was touring with Lionel Hampton’s big band. After serving in the Army during World War II, he worked briefly with the bands of Jimmy Mundy, Charlie Barnet and Count Basie before becoming the house drummer at the Los Angeles nightclub Billy Berg’s in 1946.
From 1948 to 1955 he toured Europe in the summers as a member of Lena Horne’s backup band, while playing the rest of the year in Los Angeles. His softly propulsive playing was an essential element in the popularity of Mulligan’s 1952 quartet, which also included Chet Baker on trumpet but, unusually, did not have a pianist. The group helped set the template for what came to be known as West Coast jazz, smoother and more cerebral than its East Coast counterpart.
The high profile he achieved with Mulligan emboldened him to try his luck as a bandleader, something fairly unusual for a drummer in the 1950s. His success was almost instantaneous.
He went on to record prolifically for a variety of labels, including Pacific Jazz, Impulse, Columbia and Soul Note. Among the honors he received were a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award in 2004 and a Kennedy Center Living Jazz Legend Award in 2007.
Although slowed by age, Mr. Hamilton continued to perform and record beyond his 90th birthday. He released an album, “Revelation,” in 2011 on the Joyous Shout label, and had recently completed another one, “Inquiring Minds,” scheduled for release in 2014. Until late last year he was appearing at the Manhattan nightclub Drom with Euphoria, the group he had led since 1989.
Mr. Hamilton is survived by a brother, Don; a daughter, Denise Hamilton; a granddaughter; and two great-granddaughters. His brother the actor Bernie Hamilton, and his wife, Helen Hamilton, both died in 2008.
Mr. Hamilton was highly regarded not just for his drumming, but also as a talent scout. Musicians who passed through his group before achieving stardom on their own include the bassist Ron Carter, the saxophonists Eric Dolphy and Charles Lloyd and the guitarists Jim Hall, Gabor Szabo and Larry Coryell. In a 1992 interview with National Public Radio, the saxophonist Eric Person, a longtime sideman, praised Mr. Hamilton for teaching “how to work on the bandstand, how you dress onstage, how you carry yourself in public.”
Mr. Hamilton taught those lessons as a bandleader and, for more than two decades, as a faculty member at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York. Teaching young musicians, he told The Providence Journal in Rhode Island in 2006, was “not difficult if they realize how fortunate they are.”
“But,” he added, “if they’re on an ego trip, that’s their problem.”
Daniel E. Slotnik contributed reporting.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: November 26, 2013
An earlier version of this obituary misidentified the guitarist who is heard with Mr. Hamilton’s quintet on the soundtrack of “Sweet Smell of Success.” He is John Pisano, not Jim Hall.
TONY MUSANTE, ACTOR KNOWN FOR ROLE IN ‘TOMA’
By PAUL VITELLO
Published: November 27, 2013
- Tony Musante, a rugged-looking American actor who was seen on television, in films and on stage in the United States and Europe for over 50 years but who was probably best known for a TV series he left after one season, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 77.
His wife, Jane, said the cause was a hemorrhage, which occurred while he was recovering from oral surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital.
Mr. Musante appeared opposite George C. Scott in the film “The Last Run” in 1971, on Broadway with Meryl Streep in a 1976 production of Tennessee Williams’s “27 Wagons Full of Cotton,” and in television dramas like “Ride With Terror,” a “DuPont Show of the Week” presentation with Gene Hackman in 1963. (Mr. Musante reprised the role, as an urban psychopath, in a 1967 film adaptation titled “The Incident,” with Martin Sheen.)
And then there was “Toma,” the show that got away.
Mr. Musante, who preferred the creative opportunities of stage and film roles, was reluctant when, in 1973, he was offered the starring role in “Toma,” an ABC detective drama about a renegade police detective. He agreed on one condition: that he have the option to leave after one season.
The show did fairly well in the ratings against formidable competition — “The Waltons” on CBS and “The Flip Wilson Show” on NBC — but Mr. Musante stuck to his guns. He left the series to take the role of Lt. William Calley, the Army officer convicted of ordering the massacre of Vietnamese villagers at My Lai in 1968, in Stanley Kramer’s 1975 television movie “Judgment: The Court Martial of Lt. William Calley.”
“Toma” was soon remade by its creator, Roy Huggins, as a vehicle for a replacement star, Robert Blake. The new show, renamed “Baretta,” ran from 1975 to 1978 and — like other Huggins shows, including “Maverick,” “The Rockford Files” and “The Fugitive” — had a successful afterlife in syndication.
“People in Hollywood always asked him if he regretted it, but he really never did,” Mrs. Musante said of her husband, adding: “He didn’t become the household name, or make the money he would have had he done it. But he needed variety.”
Anthony Peter Musante was born in Bridgeport, Conn., on June 30, 1936, to Anthony Musante, an accountant, and the former Natalie Salerno, a schoolteacher. He graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1958 and attended a summer drama school at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., before moving to New York. He and his wife, the former Jane Sparkes, who also graduated from Oberlin, were married in 1962 and lived in Manhattan.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Musante is survived by two sisters, Cecelia Sisti and Katherine Walker, and a brother, Thomas.
Mr. Musante appeared in about 20 Italian films, most recently “La Vita Come Viene” (2003), directed by the Golden Globe Award-winning director Stefano Incerti. In 1976, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for his role in an episode of the NBC drama series “Medical Story.”
He viewed his role in “Toma” as a big break, in a sense. “He got his first Broadway show because of it,” his wife said — in James Kirkwood’s 1975 comedy, “P.S. Your Cat is Dead!,” which also starred Jennifer Warren and Keir Dullea. Mr. Musante played a fast-talking bandit, and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award.
PAUL WALKER, STAR OF ‘FAST & FURIOUS’
By Alan Duke, CNN, updated 7:04 PM EST, Sun December 1, 2013
- NEW: Autoweek: The Porsche Carrera GT is a hard car to drive, even for professionals
- Paul Walker’s racing team partner was driving the Porsche, CNN affiliate reports
- Official identification of the remains will take days, coroner investigator says
- Speed was a factor, the sheriff’s office says
Santa Clarita, California (CNN) — Actor Paul Walker, who shot to fame as star of the high-octane street racing franchise “Fast & Furious,” died in a fiery car crash in Southern California on Saturday. He was 40.
Walker was in the passenger seat of a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT, driven by a racing team partner, that slammed into a light pole and burst into flames in an office park in the community of Valencia in Santa Clarita, about 30 miles north of Hollywood.
Walker’s publicist Ame van Iden confirmed his death Saturday. The driver, identified by CNN affiliate KCAL-TV as Roger Rodus, also died.
“Thank you all for your condolences and prayers while we mourn the loss of our loved ones,” read a message posted on the Facebook page for Always Forever, the high-performance car shop owned by Rodus.
Los Angeles Coroner Investigator Dana Bee told CNN on Sunday it would likely take 48 hours to officially identify the remains taken from the twisted wreckage. The families are gathering dental records for use in the identification, which is necessary because of the condition of the bodies, Bee said.
Speed was a factor in the crash, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said. A 45 mph speed limit sign was attached to the light pole knocked down by the Porsche.
The car, which sold for $450,000 when new, is a notoriously difficult vehicle to handle, even for professional drivers, according to Autoweek magazine. A top driver called it “scary,” the magazine reported Sunday. It is powered by a V-10, 610-hp engine.
The wreck took place about 3:30 p.m. just a few hundred yards from the shop owned by Rodus. Both men had attended a holiday toy drive for Walker’s charity, Reach Out Worldwide, hosted at the shop Saturday afternoon.
Antonio Holmes told the Santa Clarita Valley Signal newspaper that he was at the charity event when Walker and Rodus left for a ride in the Porsche.
“We all heard from our location,” Holmes told the Signal. “It’s a little difficult to know what it was. Someone called it in and said it was a vehicle fire. We all ran around and jumped in cars and grabbed fire extinguishers and immediately went to the vehicle. It was engulfed in flames. There was nothing. They were trapped. Employees, friends of the shop. We tried. We tried. We went through fire extinguishers.”
A crowd of grieving fans, curious onlookers and media surrounded the crash site for hours, watching as investigators and firefighters worked to extract the bodies from the wreckage. A memorial of flowers, left by fans, remained on the charred roadside Sunday.
Walker and Rodus had planned Saturday as a day to help survivors of victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The car shop website invited customers to the Charity Toy Drive & Automotive Social Gathering.
“During the holiday season, many economically disadvantaged children from around the world are faced with the same dilemma year after year; the lacking of joy and cheer,” the invitation read. “Our goal here is to be able to provide aid to these less fortunate children in hopes of helping them grow up to become confident, responsible and productive young adults.”
Walker’s charity is described as “a network of professionals with first responder skill-sets who augment local expertise when natural disasters strike in order to accelerate relief efforts.”
The website lists Rodus as captain and lead driver of the shop’s racing team. Walker is also listed as a team driver.
Tales of the actor’s philanthropy are not new. CNN confirmed one story from a decade ago when Walker noticed a young U.S. military veteran shopping with his fiance for a wedding ring in a Santa Barbara jewelry store.
“The groom was just back from duty in Iraq, and he was going to be deployed again soon and wanted to buy a wedding ring, but he said he just could not afford it,” saleswoman Irene King told CNN. “I don’t think the soldier realized how expensive those rings are, about $10,000.”
Although Walker noticed them, the couple apparently did not know who he was, King said.
“Walker called the manger over and said, ‘Put that girl’s ring on my tab,’ ” she said. “Walker left all his billing info, and it was a done deal. The couple was stunned. She was thrilled and could not believe someone did this.”
King called it “the most generous thing I have ever seen.”
Box office success
Walker’s career began on the small screen, first with a commercial for Pampers when he was 2, and then with parts in shows such as “Highway to Heaven” and “Touched by an Angel.”
His first few movie roles were as supporting characters in teen flicks, most notably in “Varsity Blues.”
His career really took off when he was cast as undercover cop Brian O’Conner infiltrating a street-racing gang in 2001’s “The Fast and the Furious.”
The box-office success of the surprise summer hit yielded numerous sequels. And along with Vin Diesel, Walker was one of the franchise stalwarts.
At the time of his death, he was working on the seventh film of the franchise, due out next year.
Walker wasn’t just a car enthusiast on the silver screen; offscreen, the actor competed in the Redline Time Attack racing series.
On his verified Twitter account, Walker described himself as “outdoorsman, ocean addict, adrenaline junkie … and I do some acting on the side.”
Walker also is the star of “Hours,” an independent film scheduled to be released December 13 about a father struggling to keep his newborn infant alive in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
Twitter and other social media exploded with reactions to Walker’s death.
“Completely numb and saddened to hear of the tragic death of Paul Walker,” wrote one.
Hollywood condolences came from Will Smith, Jack Osbourne, DMX and others.
“No, @RealPaulWalker. No. No. No,” tweeted actress Alyssa Milano. Walker appeared with her as a guest star in the ’80s comedy “Who’s the Boss?” “Rest with the angels. You. Sweet boy. #beauty #love #RIP.”
Walker is survived by his 15-year-old daughter, Meadow.
MAD DOG VACHON, PRO WRESTLER
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: November 23, 2013
- Mad Dog Vachon, a Canada-born wrestler whose long career and ferocious persona earned him a place in the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame, died Thursday at his home in Omaha. He was 84.
His death was confirmed by Yves Thériault, the director of a 2009 documentary about Vachon.
Vachon wrestled, originally as an amateur, for more than 40 years. A growling, gaptoothed tough guy in the ring, he once said he had done everything he could to make people hate him but had “failed miserably.”
He brought a degree of showmanship to professional wrestling that influenced the over-the-top antics of today. “He was the first wrestler to understand the power of television,” Thériault said. “He was the first wrestler to speak to the camera.”
Maurice Vachon, one of 13 children, was born on Sept. 14, 1929. His father was a police officer. His survivors include his wife, Kathie, and his brother Paul, who also became a pro wrestler, known as the Butcher. A sister, Vivian, who died in 1991, and a niece, Luna, who died in 2010, also wrestled.
Vachon represented Canada at the 1948 London Olympics and was a gold medalist at the 1950 British Empire Games in Auckland, New Zealand. He went on to wrestle throughout Canada and the Midwestern United States, most notably in the Minneapolis-based American Wrestling Association, of which he was a five-time world champion.
He earned his nickname in 1962 in Portland, Ore., when he appeared to go berserk as he waited for his opponent to arrive and tossed him out of the ring when he showed up, along with a referee and a police officer. (He insisted in a 1999 interview that none of his outburst had been scripted and that he had been fined and suspended as a result.)
He retired in 1986 but did appear at a World Wrestling Federation pay-per-view event in 1996, at which he provided the audience with a memorable bit of showmanship. Vachon had lost his right leg below the knee after he was hit by a car in 1987. At the 1996 event, a wrestler tore off Vachon’s artificial leg and used it against an opponent.