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Part of the gaggle of expert rhythm section players associated with drummer Chico Hamilton, this bassist was featured leading The Trio of his own for the prestigious Riverside label in 1961. Hal Gaylor had performed and recorded with Charlie Parker in Montreal during the previous decade; the bassist's discography of nearly 40 sessions between the early '50s and early '70s also includes outings with Hamilton featuring the great Eric Dolphy as well as sides with singers Tony Bennett and Ken Nordine and guitarist Larry Coryell.
Family was at the beginning of Gaylor's journey as a musician, of vital importance while lacking previous name-dropping clout were his father and sister, both instrumentalists. Gaylor was a clarinetist in school, then in the Royal Canadian Navy Band, a few astute critics noting the martial strains running through the bassline of "Nice Day," live on-stage at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. The latter gig with Hamilton took place less than a decade after Gaylor began studying the bass at Montreal's McGill Conservatory, the encounter with Parker sandwiched about halfway in between. The Canadian jazz scene saluted the bassist with a special television award in 1956. In 1958, Gaylor collaborated with ace trombonist Kai Winding, mapping out a section of the low register that should be declared a wildlife sanctuary.
Vocal music performances involving Gaylor include several fine live performances, notably the 1964 Tony Bennett run at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas. These sort of engagements may present him with his largest listening audience, yet Gaylor's throne of honor remains polished among erudite modern jazz buffs through association either with illustrious names such as pianist Walter Norris and vibraphonist Dave Pike or specific compositions of distinction, for example Hamilton's "Original Ellington Suite."