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Jeff Hamilton Trio: From Studio 4, Cologne, Germany (2006)

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Jeff Hamilton Trio: From Studio 4, Cologne, Germany How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

This disc was recorded in a hurry. Wolfgang Hirschmann, the legendary recording engineer of the WDR Big Band in Cologne, expressed a wish to record the Jeff Hamilton Trio before his imminent retirement. This meant the group had about two months to come up with a final set list and arrangements in the midst of a packed gigging schedule—a challenge these three pros brilliantly met, as the recording demonstrates. And it was clearly worth the rush, since the recording has a wonderfully warm and balanced feel.

It's difficult to identify the high points on this consistently excellent disc, but personal favorites include Luty's witty, bass-centered arrangement of "I've Never Been in Love Before" and Hendelman's classy take on "A Felicidade"—the most elegant I've ever heard, as well as a showcase for Hamilton's celebrated hand drumming technique. "Too Close for Comfort" is an irresistible, flat-out burner, and Luty's eloquent bowing sings the luscious melody of "So Many Stars." The group has fun with "Epistrophy," which features a solo by Hamilton and some of the pitch-bending he's famous for, allowing his drum to transcend percussion and become a melodic instrument (see also "Lullaby of the Leaves").

Add some fresh arrangements of old standards like "Moonglow" and "Autumn Nocturne," wrap things up with a swinging original (Hamilton's rousing "2nd Street Samba"), and you have a thoroughly pleasing package, varied and tasteful and expertly played. Trio jazz just doesn't get any better than this.

Visit Jeff Hamilton on the web.

Track Listing: Yano; I've Never Been in Love Before; A Felicidade; Lullaby of the Leaves; Too Close for Comfort; So Many Stars; Epistrophy; Autumn Nocturne; Moonglow; 2nd Street Samba.

Personnel: Jeff Hamilton: drums; Tamir Hendelman: piano; Christoph Luty: bass.

Record Label: Azica Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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