Some things in life are just meant to be. The first time Chris Hazelton experienced a real Hammond B-3 organ, he instantly knew that it was the instrument he was destined to play. At the request of his college professor, the then-underage aspiring musician snuck into a dark Kansas City jazz club called Bobby’s Hangout to hear the man behind the console, jazz organ master Everette DeVan. After several weeks of coaxing, Mr. DeVan agreed to take Chris on a student, showing him the ins and outs of the complicated machine. With a background in string bass and piano, Chris’ transfer to the organ was a natural one.
From 2007 to 2009, Chris called the Big Apple home. New York City provided an education that can be found only by living there. The rhythm of the city and the constant presence of jazz royalty helped sharpen his playing into a potent combination of groove and artistry. During his time there, Chris regularly performed at legendary Harlem jazz clubs such as Minton’s Playhouse, the Lenox Lounge, and Showman’s Jazz Lounge. In 2009, Chris had the honor of studying with the world’s foremost authority in the jazz organ world, Dr. Lonnie Smith!
Upon returning to his native Kansas City, Chris quickly hit the ground running by forming the Chris Hazelton Trio featuring stalwarts of the local scene Danny Embrey on guitar and Kevin Frazee on drums. In 2012, the trio recorded their album “Peregrination” (Artists Recording Collective, ARC-2383), which garnered moderate radio play across the United States. The trio combines the original works of Hazelton and Embrey with some jazz classics sprinkled in, riding the fine line between tradition and progression with ease.
Throughout 2011, Chris played behind powerhouse vocalist Mary Bridget Davies at many of the region’s premier blues venues and festivals. Her album “Wanna Feel Something,” which featured Chris’ organ work, would go on to earn a 2013 Blues Music Award nomination for “Best New Artist Debut.”
“Soul Jazz Fridays conjures the sort of atmosphere the eminent philosopher James Brown once described as “a funky good time.”
– KCUR (NPR)
His flagship ensemble, Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7, was assembled in 2013 and has since held a Friday night residency at Kansas City’s most happenin’ jazz spot, the Green Lady Lounge. This seven-piece unit focuses on funky, rhythmic soul-jazz that harkens back to the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, a time when Lou Donaldson, Jimmy McGriff, Charles Earland, Grant Green, Lonnie Smith, and a host of others packed dance floors and venues along the “Chitlin Circuit.” The Boogaloo 7 has released two 45rpm 7-inch vinyl singles on Sunflower Soul Records, a label established by Hazelton in 2014 that produces soulful, all-analog recordings. With a full-length LP recorded live at the Green Lady Lounge in the works, this band has quickly become one of Kansas City’s hottest jazz attractions.
Chris directs a gospel choir for young adults at “The Historic” Centennial United Methodist Church in the 18th & Vine Jazz District of Kansas City, MO. He is happily married to the love of his life, Erica, and also enjoys outdoor cooking and disc golfing.
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