Scott Hamilton

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Scott Hamilton was born in Providence, RI in the middle of the 1950's. He is the son of two graphic artists, Robert and Nancy Hamilton. His father taught painting at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) while his mother taught art at the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI).

When Hamilton was a child, he studied the clarinet. This early familiarity with reed instruments was to help him later on due to already having knowledge of their tricky fingering. Growing up, he loved to listen to his father's jazz record collection, which featured all of the great saxophonists including Lester Young, Stan Getz, Coleman Hawkins, and Ben Webster to name a few. When he grew up and started to play the saxophone, Hamilton tried to emulate these idols of his youth. Due to this emulation, many of the older jazz musicians rapidly accepted him.

Although he only studied the clarinet for a short period of time, he continued to have an appreciation for music. He then began to play the harmonica. When he was in his early teenage years, he met some blues players from Westerly, RI. He began to work for the guitarist and singer Duke Robillard, who was one of the players. Later on, Robillard was to start the band "Roomful of Blues". Although both Robillard and the band became famous, Robillard did not stay with that band. He left to travel solo and to work with smaller groups.

From these early interactions with band work, Hamilton found that he enjoyed it, although he wanted a saxophone. On his fourteenth birthday, his parents bought him his first saxophone. The story goes that as soon as he had his saxophone, he went home and began practicing with it. He practiced all day, working out the fingering based on his clarinet experience. He felt that, by that evening, he was beginning to get a decent sound out of it.

After a short time, Hamilton started a band with some of his high school friends. Preston Hubbard was to play bass, Fred Bates the guitar, Chuck Riggs the drums, and, of course, Hamilton on the saxophone. They called the band "The Blue Flames." The began to get gigs around the Providence area. They chose to be joined by the singer, Sue Melikkian, who later would sing with Benny Goodman. After a short while, Hubbard and Bates decided to leave the band. Phil Flanagan was chosen to replace Hubbard on the bass and Chris Flory to replace Bates on the guitar.

It was not much longer before Hamilton decide to test out New York City. When he arrived, he went to Jimmy Ryan's on 52nd Street and asked Roy Eldridge if he could sit-in. Eldridge has later recalled that he felt that "this kid is either crazy or he is a great player." Eldridge soon realized that he was the later, and so he encouraged him to come to New York.

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