As a child, Mr. Hamilton saw the Duke Ellington orchestra and was enraptured by drummer Sonny Greer. The band members sat on tiers in those days, Mr. Hamilton said in 1987, so there at the very top and in the center was this drummer who seemed to have so many drums that I could barely see him. I never got over that. In high school, Mr. Hamilton played in groups with other rising jazz stars, including Dexter Gordon, Charles Mingus and Illinois Jacquet.
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