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Jeff Hamilton Trio: Red Sparkle (2012)

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Jeff Hamilton Trio: Red Sparkle How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

When it comes to touch, taste, and a deep understanding of what makes a band swing, drummer Jeff Hamilton
Jeff Hamilton
Jeff Hamilton
b.1953
drums
has no peers. Hamilton's recordings with everybody from Diana Krall
Diana Krall
Diana Krall
b.1964
piano
and Rosemary Clooney
Rosemary Clooney
Rosemary Clooney
1928 - 2002
vocalist
to his own co-led Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
b.1995
band/orchestra
have marked him as a paragon of class and groove, and his place as the defining brush player of his generation was cemented long ago, but his legacy in jazz may ultimately be related to his trio work.

Hamilton, along with best buddy/bassist John Clayton
John Clayton
John Clayton
b.1952
bass, acoustic
, turned heads early in his career as part of pianist Monty Alexander
Monty Alexander
Monty Alexander
b.1944
piano
's trio, and his long stint with bassist Ray Brown
Ray Brown
Ray Brown
1926 - 2002
bass, acoustic
's group helped to create some of the finest trio documents put down on record in the late '80s and early '90s. Hamilton ultimately left Brown's employ to focus on building a magical trio of his own, and his current outfit fits the bill. Pianist Tamir Hendelman and bassist Christoph Luty have been working with Hamilton for the past decade, and such earlier recordings as The Best Things Happen (Azica, 2004) and Symbiosis (Capri, 2009) serve as evidence of their compatibility. Red Sparkle, the trio's sophomore effort for the Capri label, speaks further of the connection these three musicians have forged, as their ensemble artistry seems to deepen over time and age like fine wine.

While Hamilton references Brown—directly through a performance of the bassist's "I Know You So Well" that has Luty brandishing a bow, and indirectly through jubilant or bluesy originals like the drummer's nod to the dearly departed trumpeter Snooky Young
Snooky Young
Snooky Young
1919 - 2011
trumpet
on "Ain't That A Peach" and Luty's tribute to Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
, "In An Ellingtone"—this trio moves beyond the musical scope of the late bassist's band. Hamilton re-imagines Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
's "Bye Ya" as a tropically tinged Brazilian number, brings all kinds of hits, stops and solo breaks into "Too Marvelous For Words," highlights Hendelman's lush piano work and deft touch on "Laura," and burns on the up-tempo title track, which ends with an excitable snare drum solo and shows off a harder-hitting Hamilton than usual.

While it's too early to tell if this group will serve as a template for threesomes of the future, they're making beautiful music in the here-and-now that swings, soothes and leads to plenty of toe-tapping and head-nodding of the enthusiastic approval variety.

Track Listing: Ain't That A Peach; Bye Ya; On and On; Hat's Dance; Too Marvelous For Words; Laura; A Sleepin' Bee; Red Sparkle; I Know You Oh So Well; In An Ellingtone.

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

Record Label: Capri Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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