Trumpet player Stu Hamer was born in Liverpool in 1934. His family ran the Grafton Rooms, a ballroom where the Duke Ellington Orchestra once played. He is the younger brother, by two years, of trumpeter Ian Hamer. |
From 1957 until the early 1960s he worked frequently in Germany with infrequent playing visits to the UK although in 1968 he played with the Jazz Stars, his own group at the Flamingo. In 1959 he worked with Albert Mangelsdorf and the German All-Stars and worked with Oscar Pettiford, Ella Fitxgerald, Oscar Peterson, Kenny Clarke and Zoot Sims. In 1961 he worked with "Anglo-Swedish Jazz 5" in Munich and Essen.
In the early 1960s he moved to Sweden and worked with Swedish bands led by Putte Wickman, Lelf Asps, Povel Ramel and the Emanon Big Band led by the American arranger and leader George Russell. In the UK he worked with Cyril Stapleton at the Dorchester backing stars like Sammy Davis Jr. From 1966 to 1968 he toured Europe with the Joe Harriott Indo-Jazz Stars and in 1967 made a quintet bebop album with Joe that is his only jazz work available in the UK. At the end of the 1960s he joined the Dizzy Gillespie Reunion Big Band and found himself sitting alongside Dizzy Reece in the trumpet section. Following this he quit playing and worked on musical composition.
He started playing again in 1982 with his own band before joining the High Life International Band from Ghana who were recorded on the Sterns Africa label. He changed musically and developed a love of African music and stayed in Africa for some years before touring Canada twice with Native Spirit before returning to London to play with African musicians based there. A serious brain illness sometime in the late 1980s meant that he was advised to give up playing the trumpet and he took up the piano and composed a number works, including some songs that he wrote lyrics to.
Looking at the biography and brief discography below, it is apparent that Stu's musical interests were very varied and he appears to have always been looking for something new. There are no long term commitments to groups or musicians. He is alive in 2013 and still living in south west London.
"In August 1956 Stu joined my brothers band "Lars Werner Combo" that was then playing in the Barrett Club in Hamburg. He rejoined the group in Frankfurt and stayed with the band for the rest of the 8 month tour that ended back in Hamburg in April 1957. Among the musicians that sat in in with the band during the tour was Percy Heath and Connie Kay, The Mangelsdorf brothers, Hans Koller, Jacques Peltzer (who also became sort of semi-attached to the group during three months of the tour and who arranged concerts in Huy in Belgium which was radio-recorded by Radio Liege. The original tapes were destroyed by the radio station, but recently Lasses copies were found in the National Jazzarchive in Stockholm.
The original band members were: Rolf Hultqvist (tenor sax), Lars Werner (piano), Goran Pettersson (bass) and Sune Spaangberg (drums) who was replaced by Lenny Breslaw three months into the tour".
"In 1961, Stu had a gig in the Tarantel Club in Munich, but as his band had collapsed after a month in Cologne when Stu's wife took off with the piano player, he had called in Lasse who then brought with him Bo Waermell on tenor and Kurt Lindgren on bass. Already at the Tarantel was Stu's old friend African drummer Morris Gawronsky. Together they formed the "Anglo-Swedish Jazz 5" and performed for a month in the Tarantel club in Schwabing/Munich. They then went off to Essen for another month which was however terminated after just one week at the Gruga Halle because the promoter had contracted the original band with Stu's wife as a singer, and did not like the sound of this group!
The Tarantel-session was recorded by an American military radio station. The original tapes are hopefully still with the sound engineer who is ill with cancer or possibly already departed. But also in this case, Lasses copy-tapes are in the National Jazz Archives".
In the late 1950s Stu Hamer was playing in Germany and appeared on a couple of record dates:
"The Concert 23.6.58" is a 2 LP set recorded in BadenBaden by an eleven piece band including Stu Hamer, Zoot Sims, Lars Werner and Kenny Clarke. Originally issued on the German Jazzline label it has been re-issued on CD by the Jazzhaus/SWR Music/Naxos label...
In September 29th, 1959 Stu was included in a recording by a twelve piece band of mostly German musicians that recorded one title in Berlin for the German label Ariola label...
On February 25th, 1966 the Ronnie Ross Big Band recorded a live programme for NDR, in Hamburg, Germany, that was later released in Germany on a CD under the title Old Friends & New Faces from Britain...
Ronnie Ross Big Band
Stu Hamer (tp, flhrn), Greg Bowen, Les Condon (tp), Keith Christie, Johnny Marshall (tb), Bob Burns (sop,as,cl), Peter King, Danny Moss (ts), Ronnie Ross (bs), Bill Le Sage (p,vib), Spike Heatley (b), Tony Carr (d).
Jazz Jury/Double Exposure/ Chow Min/No Longer/Three For the Bar/C-Deck/Way Out Back/Since Yesterday/Spike's Bit/Tobago/Veronique/Ugetsu. (three other titles were recorded that were not included on the CD: Small Fry/Maltese Cross/Jazz Jury-2)
Joe Harriott Quintet - June 20th, 1967 (Melodisc SLP12-150)
Joe Harriott (as), Stu Hamer (tp), Pat Smythe (p), Coleridge Goode (b), Phil Seamen (d).
Tuesday Morning Swing*/A Time For Love*/The Rake*/Blues In C*/Shepherd's Serenade*/Polka Dots And Moonbeams*/Strollin' South*/Just Goofin'*/Count Twelve.
(*Cadillac CD - Joe Harriott Quintet Swings High)
(*Proper Box 4CD set - The Joe Harriott Story)
On November 7th, 1968 the Dizzy Gillespie Reunion Big Band played a 20th and 30th anniversary concert in Berlin. The five piece trumpet section included Dizzy Gillespie, Dizzy Reece and Stu Hamer and the record was issued on the German label MPS...
c1968 the Dizzy Gillespie and his Orchestra played a another concert in Europe, probably Italy. The five piece trumpet section included Gillespie, Reece and Hamer and the band recorded one title which was issued on an Italian label...
The New World - c1969 (Trumpet A Go-Go - Saga FID2114)
Phil Parker, Stu Hamer (tp), Mike Gibbs (tb), Graham Stansfield (org), David Moses (b,arr), Chick Webb (d).
New World Symphony/Goodnight Ladies/Scheherazade/Trumpet Tune/Fifth Symphony/There's A Tavern In The Town/Sonatine In F/The House Of The Rising Sun/Bourree/Violin Concerto In D.
c1969 Stu recorded with JJ Jackson "The Greatest Little Soul Band in the Land". All the arrangements and vocals were by JJ Jackson and the album was issued on the US Congress label catalogue number 7000/US. The band included, amongst others, jazz musicians Stu Hamer, Dick Morrissey, Ronnie Stephenson and Bill Eyden...
Keith Greenhalf adds the following:
"He played with a latin group called 'Bolivar' around the 1984/87 period and appears on one title with them from a cd recorded at the Bass Clef Studio over the club in probably 1986. That title is 'Merengue' and the cd sleeve says he appears as a special guest.
He seems to have played regularly with them in this period. The cd is called 'Samba con Salsa' on Bassclef 31".