Jeff Hamilton Trio – Red Sparkle – Capri Records 74114-2, 56:15 [2/21/12] ****:
(Jeff Hamilton – drums; Tamir Hendelman – piano; Christoph Luty – bass)
Jeff Hamilton is one of those empathetic and multi-talented drummers who is at home equally with a big band such as the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, a small group like the Oscar Peterson Trio, supporting jazz singer Diana Krall, or his own trio. It is in this last configuration that he demonstrates all his talents with his latest release Red Sparkle.
This formation of the trio has been together for more than ten years and the cohesiveness they have developed over that period is evident. In the manner of the Oscar Peterson Trio for whom Hamilton was the drummer for a period, they build their musical rapport from a set arrangement for each tune, but one which offers a wide avenue for improvisation. This interpersonal style is evident with the lead tune “Ain’t That A Peach” which was written by Hamilton for “Snooky” Young who had been the backbone in the trumpet section of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra for 26 years. This track is a swinger with some big tone bass breaks. The Thelonious Monk piece “Bye Ya” provides the group with a chance to re-interpret the offering with a Latin stimulated time signature generated by some tasty brush work by Hamilton. The Stephen Bishop 1977 hit “On and On” is given a lovely lyrical reading with some sensitive piano from Tamir Hendelman.
It is worth commenting on the contribution of Tamir Hendelman to the success of this trio. While he is Israeli-born, he has been working in the U.S. for over 20 years and has built a solid reputation not only as a featured player in the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, but also as a sympathetic accompanist to a number of both jazz and pop singers. His own composition “Hat’s Dance” gives him an opportunity to deliver on this sprightly swinger in a musical partnership with Hamilton. Bassist Christoph Luty has been also been a member of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. While he may not be as well know as the other members of the trio, he nevertheless demonstrates great command of his instrument on “A Sleepin’ Bee” where the bass develops the melody. On the Ray Brown composition “I Know You Oh So Well” he shows his arco touch as his homage to the composer. The title track “Red Sparkle” refers to the color of Hamilton’s first drum set and is an up-tempo dazzler designed to display the talents of each member of the trio and captures Hamilton’s drum breaks to perfection.
This is an exemplary disc from a highly disciplined yet communicative trio.
TrackList: Ain’t That A Peach; Bye Ya; On and On; Hat’s Dance; Too Marvellous For Words; Laura; A Sleepin’ Bee; Red Sparkle; I Know You Oh So Well; In An Ellingtone.
A bona fide jazz legend is celebrated with an all-star documentary soundtrack vinyl soundtrack.