A Triple Bill of Keys & Drums


Sign in to view read count
Three albums by keyboards and drums duos—two of them recorded in the early 1990s, the third in the noughties—demonstrate the wide and varied territory this pared down instrumentation can inhabit.

Andrew Hill / Chico Hamilton

Dreams Come True

Joyous Shout!


On paper, the duet of late pianist Andrew Hill and drummer Chico Hamilton seems odd. Hamilton is the inventive timekeeper par excellence as well as a great textural player. Hill, especially in small groupings, is all about ebb and flow, playing around the rhythm rather than inside of it. On first listening to Dreams Come True, that impression is reinforced. Culled from a 1993 studio session, this date sat in the can until 2008. Hill and Hamilton played together only once before at a jazz festival, so their history seems to lie more in appreciation of each other's abilities than any long-standing musical partnership. Yet somehow, the music begins making sense. The players are indeed coming from two different directions, yet they somehow meet in an equitable place.

Most of the compositions are either by Hill or Hamilton. Hill's "Watch That Dream" finds Hamilton playing a straight rhythm on tambourine as Hill essays the beautiful melody and its extrapolations in free time, resulting in an 11 minute piece that pushes and pulls at the listener simultaneously. Hamilton's "And The Drums Sing" is a gorgeous melody with his malleted tom-toms creating patterns of waves in accompaniment.

Everything seems to mesh on Dizzy Gillespie's "Shaw Nuff," where Hill and Hamilton are chasing each other, slowing down, speeding up and dropping out until finally coming together at the end with an abrupt bluesy flourish. It's a wonderful performance, worthy of two masters and it is a superb example of the element of surprise that can still crop up in jazz. Hamilton and Hill are operating from different streams, yet, more often than not they blend to create a unique whole.

Dennis Warren / Chris Chalfant

New'd Music



Boston-based improvisers, pianist Chris Chalfant and drummer Dennis Warren are eminently more suited to each other. Perhaps that's why the element of surprise is a little less prevalent on this duo session. New'd Music is another historic release, stemming back to 1992, before either had released their first albums.

Consisting of three lengthy improvisations, it's impressive just how in synch these two are. Chalfant plays with a lot of energy. While Cecil Taylor might be a point of reference, she is clearly reaching beyond his influence even at this early date. She frequently will stop and dwell on a repetitive motif that she works subtly, warping it into new shapes and phrases. Warren, whose Full Metal Revolutionary Jazz Ensemble has been a mainstay of the Boston jazz scene since the late 1980s, seems to shadow her lines, commenting and pushing them along. Although Warren is best known as an energy drummer, here he shows his sensitive side with several slow interludes that find him shading and coloring the music, and some strong driving, rhythmic, almost dancing interludes. Chalfant and Warren are well-suited to each other but considering the vintage of this session, perhaps an update is warranted.

Jasper van't Hof / Fredy Studer




Dutch pianist/keyboardist Jasper Van't Hof was among the early wave of Dutch players to try to find his own voice in improvised music. He eventually settled on a fusion friendly style that incorporated electronics. Swiss percussionist Fredy Studer has made some interesting music that straddles the line between free improv, ethnic incursions—Heavy Cairo Traffic (Intuition, 1997), recorded with Koch/Schutz/Studer and the Egyptian El Nin Troop, is one of the great unsung records of the 1990s, electronics and pure percussion revelry. Van't Hof and Studer have played together, on and off since the 1980s.

Pangramm is a set of nine atmostpheric pieces that are rooted in electronic instruments. While this disc has its moments (the opening section of the title track is particularly riveting), too much of it sounds cluttered and messy. Some sounds are particularly miscast, especially when van't Hof uses that ersatz synth string setting. Many of Studer's rhythms are leaden and over emphatic. Pangramm is way too redolent of some of the less fond memories of the 1970s and a surprising disappointment.

Tracks and Personnel

Dreams Come True

Tracks: Ohho; Three Notes & A Brush; Watch That Dream; And The Drums Sing; Clifford's Gone; Shaw Nuff; Bless That Dream, Maybe Hope; Composition B.

Personnel: Andrew Hill: piano; Chico Hamilton: drums, tambourine.

New'd Music

Tracks: Soon Enough; Be; New'd Music.

Personnel: Dennis Warren: drums; Chris Chalfant: piano.

Tracks and Personnel


Tracks: Pangramm; Iks Kaks Kander; Le Marquis De Besancon; Hopped Up; Homwoggle; Zero Hour; Jigaboo; Witticism; Irregular Benefit.

Personnel: Jasper van't Hof: keyboards, synthesizer, sound modules; Fredy Studer: drums, percussion, electronic devices.

Related Video


More Articles

Read Duke Ellington on Storyville Records Multiple Reviews Duke Ellington on Storyville Records
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 20, 2017
Read Lee Morgan On Music Matters Multiple Reviews Lee Morgan On Music Matters
by Greg Simmons
Published: March 6, 2017
Read Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago Multiple Reviews Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 21, 2017
Read New, Notable and Nearly Missed Multiple Reviews New, Notable and Nearly Missed
by Phil Barnes
Published: January 25, 2017
Read Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas Multiple Reviews Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas
by Doug Collette
Published: January 14, 2017
Read Weekertoft Hits Its Stride… Multiple Reviews Weekertoft Hits Its Stride…
by John Eyles
Published: January 7, 2017
Read "Jeremy Monteiro & Eugene Pao: To Paris With Love,  A Tribute to the Genius of Michel Legrand / Jeremy Monteiro & Jazz Brazileiro: Brazilian Dreams" Multiple Reviews Jeremy Monteiro & Eugene Pao: To Paris With Love, A...
by Ian Patterson
Published: August 2, 2016
Read "Emanem Tidies Up" Multiple Reviews Emanem Tidies Up
by John Eyles
Published: December 19, 2016
Read "The Unity Sessions / Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny" Multiple Reviews The Unity Sessions / Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 7, 2016
Read "Christmas Roundup 2016: Aguankó, Jeff Collins, & Vinnie Zummo" Multiple Reviews Christmas Roundup 2016: Aguankó, Jeff Collins, &...
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 21, 2016
Read "Pi Recordings 2016 Releases" Multiple Reviews Pi Recordings 2016 Releases
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 24, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus


Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!