Jeff Hamilton with the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble: Time Passes On (2012)
One of the premier college jazz bands in the country joins forces with one of the most significant big band drummers alive today for Time Passes On, as the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble invites Grammy Award-winning drummer Jeff Hamilton for a live recording at Chicago's legendary Jazz Showcase. Under the leadership of Bob Lark, a renowned trumpeter and Director of Jazz Studies at DePaul University, DePaul's jazz ensemble has often performed with jazz icons contributing to their curriculum. Hamilton is now part of that history and provides two compositions for this date, of which the emotional remembrance ballad title track (penned for his first drum teacher) is one.
While the live set includes originals, the meat of the sessions relies primarily on standards borrowed from the songbooks of Miles Davis, Frank Foster, Henry Mancini, McCoy Tyner and others. The classic "Shiny Stockings" was the finale piece on each of the recording nights at the Jazz Showcase, where the crowd's reaction resembled, as Lark stated "the eruption of a volcano!" For the purposes of this album, it becomes the opening piece, capturing the same enthusiastic response from the audience. With splendid accompaniment from alto saxophonist Billy Wolfe, Hamilton reprises his gorgeous Brazilian samba previously recorded with his trio, modifying this rendition with an extended solo performance on "Samba de Martello."
Hamilton takes to the brushes for Mancini's standard, "The Days of Wine and Roses," and, with saxophonist Wolfe (who arranged the piece), joins the drummer one last time as the duo delivers its solos with able support from the ensemble. Arranged by Thomas Matta, "The Serpent's Tooth" seems like the perfect vehicle to showcase the drummer's appreciable chops; though lead trombonist Andy Baker and soprano saxophonist Corbin Andrick shine on this one, it's Hamilton who delivers the coup de grace. Featuring a contribution from the coconspirator of the Hamilton/Clayton Jazz Orchestra, special guest bassist John Clayton makes his last appearance, on the brief, mid-tempo "Back Home Again in Indiana."
The group marches to a different beat on "Happy Days" and, though Hamilton is absent from this tune and the remaining selection, the orchestra remains very much alive and kicking, delivering fine orchestrations throughout the balance of the repertoire. Baker contributes, perhaps, the best big band arrangement of the recording on the spacious "Baby Steps." Penned for his son, it highlights both the trombonist and pianist Brad Macdonald, both taking solid solos. "Suggestions" is band director Lark's only contribution, and captures trumpeter Marquis Hill and tenor saxophonist Rocky Yera fronting the ensemble's brassy voices with strong statements of their own.
Hamilton delivers quite a percussive lesson on Time Passes On, though not the only lessons learned that night at the Jazz Showcase. The performance of Bob Lark's DePaul University Jazz Ensemble readily affirms its reputation as one of the finest orchestras in the countrywhich, incidentally, is very capable of providing a lesson or two of its own.
Track Listing: Shiny Stockings; Samba De Martelo; Time Passes On; The Days Of Wine And Roses; The Serpent's Tooth; Back Home Again In Indiana; Happy Days; Baby Steps; Suggestions; Nature Boy.
Personnel: Jeff Hamilton: drums (1-6); Corbin Andrick: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute; Billy Wolfe: alto saxophone, soprano saxophonr, flute; Rocky Yera: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Will Brocker: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Mark Hiebert: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Chuck Parrish: lead trumpet, flugelhorn; Tim Bales, trumpet, flugelhorn; Marquis Hill: trumpet, flugelhorn; Paul Dietrich: trumpet, flugelhorn; Kazumasa Terashima: trumpet, flugelhorn; Andy Baker: lead trombone; Andrew Thompson: trombone; Andrew Johnston: trombone; Jeff Livorsi: bass trombone; Justin Thomas: vibraphone; Brad Macdonald: piano; Kevin Brown: guitar; Dan Parker: bass; Keith Brooks: drums (7,9); Nick Kabat:drums (8,10).