John Clayton has gained prominence in both the jazz and classical fields. After studying bass under the esteemed Ray Brown, Clayton performed with Count Basie and his orchestra, and as principal bass with the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. He has been commissioned by, among others, the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, American Jazz Philharmonic, Iceland Symphony, Metropole Orchestra (Holland), Tri-C Jazz Fest Cleveland, Monterey Jazz Festival, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and the Carnegie Hall Big Band. As a conductor, he has led the Israel Philharmonic, Munich Radio, Northwest Chamber and Iceland orchestras, and numerous professional big bands. Clayton has been nominated for seven Grammy awards, winning a Grammy in 2008 for his work on Queen Latifah’s recording Travelin’ Light, and was bestowed a platinum record for his arrangement of The Star Spangled Banner for Whitney Houston.
He co-leads both the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and the Clayton Brothers Quintet and is a bass professor at the University of Southern California, Jazz Studies Department. Clayton also serves as artistic director for the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival, for which he received a National Medal of the Arts in 2008, and the Centrum Jazz Workshop in Port Townsend, Washington, and the Vail Jazz Camp.
The Joyce Award supported Clayton in writing a new full-scale concerto grosso for big band and jazz combo as well as a teaching residency in Detroit. Clayton conducted music workshops for Detroit youth through the Detroit Symphony’s Civic Jazz Orchestra and other high school and college musicians in the area, and work closely with the Detroit-based bandleader Scott Gwinnell, a young pianist, trombonist, composer, and arranger, and his 16-piece modern-jazz big band; Gwinnell’s band will premiere the commissioned piece at the Jazz Festival with the Clayton Brothers Quintet as the group soloists, on the closing night of the 2009 Detroit Jazz Fest, Labor Day Weekend.