John Clayton Jazz

Legendary Jazz Trio, “The Poll Winners” & Performance By Celebrated Jazz Masters Forman, Clayton & Hamilton

Jazz historian Will Friedwald on the famed midcentury jazz trio, then West Coast guitar legend Bruce Forman leads a trio with Jeff Hamilton, and John Clayton for a not-to-be-missed jazz performance.

A night of jazz not to be missed.  The music of the midcentury was chronicled in the most important music magazine of the time, DownBeat Magazine. Every year in a poll of its readers, DownBeat would proclaim the winners, the best players in the world.

For many years in a row, Shelly Manne, Ray Brown, and Barney Kessel topped the list for drums, bass, and guitar. In 1957, playing together as the “Poll Winners”, the three master musicians recorded their first album. They would go on to top the charts, followed by another 3 albums between 1957 and 1960, with a reunion album in 1975. A vinyl remastered reissue of the original 1957 “Poll Winners Win Again” was released in June 2022.

While many people might not know of them by name…they have heard them!  In addition to their albums, they were studio stalwarts who played music on movies, TV, and popular hits throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s (Beach Boys, Elvis, Pink Panther, to name a very few).

Jazz historian Will Friedwald will explore the history of the “Poll Winners” and their effect on music and culture in an informative lecture presentation at 6 p.m.

Following a quick break, at 7 p.m., three legendary contemporary jazz masters, Bruce Forman, John Clayton and Jeff Hamilton, playing the actual instruments of their predecessors, revisit that musical legacy. The empathetic connection between these two generations of musicians is organic and profound.

Ray Brown was John Clayton’s most significant teacher and mentor; additionally, Clayton performed and recorded with both Kessel and Manne. Jeff Hamilton replaced Shelly Manne in the LA4, performed and recorded with Kessel, played with Brown in the LA4, with Oscar Peterson, and was the drummer in the Ray Brown Trio for seven years. Bruce Forman performed often with Brown and was directly mentored by Kessel, performing and touring with him widely.

In this performance, Bruce Forman playing Barney Kessel’s guitar, John Clayton playing Ray Brown’s bass, and Jeff Hamilton playing Shelly Manne’s drums, pay homage to the swinging grace and lasting beauty of the original trio. They do so in their own voices, inspired by the extraordinary artists who were their mentors and their friends.

Will Friedwald has written about music for The Wall Street JournalVanity Fair and The New York Times. He was the jazz critic for The New York Sun.  Author of nine books on jazz, he has written liner notes for nearly five hundred compact discs, for which he has received eight Grammy nominations.

$60, $45

Things to Know

This event is for ages 12 and older.
The entrance to the Annenberg Theater is located behind the Annenberg Theater Box Office, adjacent to the Palm Springs Art Museum’s North Parking Lot.
Ample free public parking is available in the multi-level public garage across from the Palm Springs Art Museum.
Handicap parking is available. This event is wheelchair accessible.
The organizer of this event is Modernism Week.

Event Check-in Location
Annenberg Theater,  Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 N. Museum Dr., Palm Springs, CA 92262