Thursday, May 7, 2015

Jeff Hamilton Trio: Great American Songs Through the Years

Capri Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Great American Songs Through the Years

I knew this release would be great, even before hearing it. Jeff Hamilton is the most tasteful drummer around; ditto for pianist Tamir Hendleman and bassist Christoph Luty. Add the fact that these artists have played together for more than a decade, and, well, you have a sure winner.

Capri Records obviously thinks the same. They took this album — initially released in 2013 in Japan, by Art Promotion Inc. — and produced a 2,500-copy limited edition of their own. Get yours quickly (although I expect it’ll be popular enough to prompt further editions).

Hamilton, born in the early 1950s, quickly became a percussion legend. It’s difficult to find a top artist with whom he hasn’t worked. During his early years, the list included Lionel Hamilton, Woody Herman, Monty Alexander and the Tommy Dorsey “ghost band.” The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (CHJO) was formed in 1985, and still exists and records today. Other associations include Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, Diana Krall and combos under Hamilton’s own name.  

The number of vocalists he has supported is a further indication of his tasteful playing.

Hendelmen, born in Israel in 1984, moved to the States and at age 14 won a Yamaha competition. In 1993, he became the youngest musical director at Florida’s Lovewell Institute. He has recorded with Barbra Streisand and Natalie Cole, toured with Tierney Sutton and the Bill Holman Big Band, and (of course) is a member of Hamilton’s combo and the CHJO.

Luty has been with Hamilton’s trio for a decade, also is a member of the CHJO, and teaches. His association with name artists includes Shirley Horn, Dave Brubeck, Bill Cunliffe and Bill Watrous.

Anyone who lived through the Big Band years will be familiar with the 10 Great American Songbook tunes that fill this album. It’s all familiar, memorable and swinging, and it’s an absolute must for your jazz library.

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