The Hammars, Karin and Mimmi Pettersson, are trombonists from Sweden. I don't know where, when or how they learned to play as well as they do, and don't especially care. What matters is that they seem able to doquite easilywhatever is needed to be done on trombone. Their artistry is remarkable on this marvelous tribute to a couple of legendary trombonists, J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding, who helped serve as their inspiration.
First, as already noted, each of the Hammars is an accomplished trombonist, which is clear from the outset. There are times, in fact, when one could swear he or she was listening again to Jay and Kai, even though that is no longer possible. Second, the Hammars are backed by an outstanding rhythm section that cooks or lays back as necessary, always with empathy and awareness. Third, the Hammars do something Jay and Kai never did: they sing, Mimmi on "The Good Life and "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To, Karin on "Being Alive. They're pretty good at that too, even though "Good Life and "Being Alive aren't among this reviewer's favorite songs, and that's being charitable.
The instrumentals, on the other hand, are invariably bright and pleasant, starting with pianist Mathias Algotsson's "Falcon and including his "Hammer Theme, "Winter and "All These Days, Karin Hammar's "Penthouse and "High Altitude Delivery, and Mimmi's "My Wedding Shoes. Wrapping up the convivial session are Benny Carter's "When Lights Are Low and Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn's "Beautiful Friendship. Especially heartening is drummer Ronnie Gardiner's proficient use of brushes, which seems to be a lost art these days. Algotsson is by any measure a superb pianist, while bassist Martin Sjøstedt, an exemplary timekeeper, must be under thirty, as he was a member last year of the European Youth Jazz Orchestra.
In the liner notes, the Hammars write, "We hope that you will enjoy listening to this album as much as we enjoyed making it. I've no way of knowing how much they enjoyed making the album, but I can honestly report that the level of enjoyment on this end was remarkable. In assembling their heartfelt homage to Jay and Kai, the Sliding Hammers (or Hammars, if you please) have hit the nail squarely on the head.
Track Listing: Falcon; Penthouse; High Altitude Delivery; The Good Life; When Lights Are Low; The Hammer Theme; Winter; Being Alive; My Wedding Shoes; You
Personnel: Karin Hammar: trombone, vocals; Mimmi Pettersson-Hammar: trombone, vocals; Mathias
Algotsson: piano; Martin Sj
Title: A Beautiful Friendship: Honoring Jay and Kai
| Year Released: 2007
| Record Label: Prophone Records