As a longtime confederate of tenor saxophone titan Tubby Hayes, trumpeter Ian Hamer was an essential component of some of the most celebrated recordings in the history of British jazz. A blistering player as well as a gifted composer and arranger, he nevertheless spent the majority of his career as a sideman, and did not lead his own group until well into the rock era. Born in Liverpool on September 11, 1932, Hamer launched his career alongside brothers Stuart and George in their mother Mary Daly Hamer's big band -- his father, Wilf Hamer, was also a bandleader of some renown. After serving in the RAF, Hamer signed on with bandleader Carl Barriteau, followed in 1954 by a brief stint behind Oscar Rabin; he first attracted significant attention within jazz circles during his tenure as a soloist with the Vic Lewis Big Band, and upon joining Hayes in 1956 he was widely cited among Britain's finest trumpeters.
An imaginative and muscular player, Hamer even earned acclaim from legends like Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis, and in tandem with Hayes' other trumpeter, the great Jimmy Deuchar, he redefined the instrument's role in the fast-changing world of British jazz via now-classic LPs including 1966's 100% Proof and Jazz Tête à Tête. Hamer also contributed to sessions headlined by John Dankworth, Jack Parnell, and Ted Heath, and his studio work later expanded into the pop arena -- most notably, he plays on the Beatles' classic "Got to Get You into My Life," as well as recordings by Bing Crosby, Barbra Streisand, and Dusty Springfield. Hamer also served for two decades as the lead trumpeter on the BBC television showcase Top of the Pops. During the late '60s and early '70s he led his own sextet, which also featured Hayes and saxophonist Dick Morrissey -- their long-unreleased recordings finally saw the light of day in 2006 via the two-LP set Acropolis. Hamer retired to the Brighton area in 1987 but formed a new venture, the Sussex Youth Jazz Orchestra. He died September 3, 2006, just a week shy of his 74th birthday. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi