Great American Songs – Through The Years – Jeff Hamilton Trio – Capri

Great American Songs – Through The Years – Jeff Hamilton Trio – Capri Records, 51:05 ****:

( Jeff Hamilton – drums; Tamir Hendelman – piano; Christoph Luty – bass)

Jeff Hamilton is a drummer who has an exacting technical command of his drum kit,  and at the same time is a demanding and confident time keeper. In the company of the exceedingly polished pianist Tamir Hendelman, and the harmonic bassist Christoph Luty, the trio has put together a coherent examination of well-known compositions under the rubric of Great American Songs – Through The Years.

The challenge for the group, is to take these well-travelled but versatile compositions, and make them interesting. Each member of the band has a hand in the arranging of the material, and their approach demonstrates a very catholic sensibility. The band leads off with a Rodgers & Hart composition “Falling In Love With Love,” which they wrote in 1938 for the musical The Boys from Syracuse. Taken at moderately swinging pace, Hendelman runs once through the melody, before his solo flight which is played with his usual combination of single note runs and block chords. Bassist Luty offers a nice turn with some walking-bass figures, before Hamilton covers his drum kit with some tasty breaks.

In 1956-57, Rosemary Clooney had a TV show on which she used “Tenderly” as the theme song. Keeping the song in its ballad mode, Hendelman uses his soft touch to bring out the tenderness that the song implies. The fist real rocker is the Harry Warren/Mark Gordon composition “The More I See You,” which starts off unassumingly with an arco bass passage from Luty. Hendelman then picks up the pace with some solid playing, supported by Hamilton’s deft drumming in both a supporting role and some tasty soloing. For a nice change of pace and tempo, the group examines “Thou Swell” which was another Rodgers & Hart tune written for the 1928 musical A Connecticut Yankee. This is done with a lively Latin touch by Hendleman’s piano, driven by Hamilton’s effective use of his cymbals and tom-toms.

“I Thought About You” opens with Luty’s plucked bass setting the scene, and then he stays in the forefront of the number, while Hendelman develops the melody with charm and harmonic rigour. Luty then comes back in to advance a solo with his strong tone. The session closes with “How Long Has This Been Going On,” written by George and Ira Gershwin for the 1928 musical Funny Face. The interplay between the musician is especially effective on this number, as they show what an adaptable and subtle band can do.  With tons of experience among the members, this is a sophisticated and melodic trio.

TrackList: Falling In Love With Love; Tenderly; The More I See You; It Could Happen To You; Someone To Watch Over Me; Thou Swell; You Took Advantage Of Me; I Thought About You; All Or Nothing At All; How Long Has This Been Going On

—Pierre Giroux     

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