John Clayton

John Clayton

John Clayton is among the most complete musicians of contemporary jazz. A masterful bass player, awarded composer, dedicated educator and seasoned band leader, John's path is a brilliant example of a life dedicated to music. Throughout his forty years of career, he has played with some of the biggest artists in jazz history, performed in multiple settings–from classic orchestra to big band–, served as President of the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers and directed some of the biggest jazz festivals in the world. By earned right, John Clayton has achieved the rank of Music Master.

John enrolled in Indiana University at age nineteen, joining Monty Alexander's trio soon after graduation. Two years later he formed the Clayton Brothers band together with his brother Jeff–a highly regarded saxophone player. In that same year, he joined Count Basie's Big Band. John would stay with Basie for two years, gaining invaluable performing and arranging experience under the tutelage of arguably one of the best jazz band leaders of all time.

In the early eighties John crossed the Atlantic to join the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, taking the first bass spot. After five years in Europe, John decided to head back to the USA and formed The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, together with his brother Jeff and acclaimed drummer Jeff Hamilton. This group has released six albums to date and has become one of the most successful big bands of contemporary jazz.

During the last decade, John has earned visibility as he recorded and toured extensively with Diana Krall. Together with Jeff Hamilton, John has mentored Diana's rising musical star since she was a teenager. John has also played with many other acclaimed jazz voices, such as Nancy Wilson, Natalie Cole and Cassandra Wilson.

Read what John has to say about technique acquisition, jamming and improvising, becoming a pro musician and much, much more. Read his exclusive interview.

John Clayton's official website

Michael Manring Lenny White Larry Grenadier John Clayton Thomas Lang David Ellefson John Abercrombie Chester Thompson