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Album Review

In the liner notes, drummer Hamilton states "I have never made a straight-ahead record." This one comes pretty close. It swings with fervent joy — not bad for the 71-year-old veteran. Electric guitarist Cary DeNigris, and saxophonist Eric Person from Hamilton's larger working ensemble, take these shared themes to logical conclusions, and offer rather melodic repartee between themselves. It's a stripped down approach that seems to serve the drummer quite well, as his own voice and musical director. Hamilton wrote two pieces: "Song for Helen," a beautiful meditational hymn, on which Hamilton himself does not play, but DeNigris' shimmering, slow chords, and Person's sonorous alto mesh well; and "Around the Corner," a slow and bluesy swing with a fine hi-hat solo, and free section in the middle of two-note phrases which bookend this ABCA form. "See Saw" has ostinato alto and harmonic unison guitar floating over Hamilton's lightning-quick brushes. De Nigris wrote the distended phrases with the easy blues, slight bossa feel of "A Little After Twelve," loaded with fragmented, sparse interplay. His "Sound Rising" offers more psychedelic guitar against quick brush work. Person penned the highlight, "Tenth Vision," a heavy and lustrous piece, with ostinato guitar chords wrapped around the saxophonists inquisitive soprano, and Hamilton's tom toms with a jungle-imaged bridge. "29," also by Person, is a loping, near ethereal number, with a slinky workout for the three underneath an implied march rhythm. "C & C," with just drums and guitar, has a definite rock edge. A most impressionistic soprano or sopranino sax from Person, on "Love of Life," merges with an irresistible modal swing, where the band really comes together. Fans of Hamilton should enjoy this tremendously; purists may not. That his music is individualistic is a credit to Hamilton's endurance as a singularly minded figure in American-based, improvised music. Recommended. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Biography

Born: September 21, 1921 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Chico Hamilton, a subtle and creative drummer, will probably always be remembered for the series of quintets that he led during 1955-1965 and for his ability as a talent scout than for his fine drumming. Hamilton first played drums while in high school with the many fine young players (including Dexter Gordon, Illinois Jacquet, and Charles Mingus) who were in Los Angeles at the time. He made his recording debut with Slim Gaillard, was house drummer at Billy Berg's, toured with Lionel Hampton, and...
Full Bio
Trio!, Chico Hamilton
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