Any trio anchored by drummer Jeff Hamilton
has a clear head start when compared to any would-be rivals. That's because Hamilton's unerring and tasteful timekeeping and resourceful use of brushes and sticks would be any trio's dream come true. In this case it's Hamilton's own trio, recording at least the sixteenth album under that name, the bulk of them with the superb Israeli-born pianist Tamir Hendelman
at his side and, this time, with bassist Jon Hamar
replacing longtime partner Christoph Luty
and displaying impressive awareness and poise on his maiden voyage.
Not only do Hamilton and his mates perform impeccably as a unit, each one is a superlative soloist whose soliloquys are never less than seductive. Hamilton doesn't solo often, but when he does it's akin to a master class in how to do it right. Hamar proves remarkably solo-worthy as well, while Hendelman, who's never at a loss for a suitable nuance or phrase, shows why he's been Hamilton's conclusive choice at the keyboard for more than two decades. Those who may cast about for a weak link won't find one here; everything on this well-designed craft is ship-shape and trespass-free.
Most of the selections on Catch Me If You Can
(including Hendelman's frisky title song) are either barely known or seldom played, from John Williams' elegant "Make Me Rainbows," which opens the session, to Artie Shaw
's entrancing "Moonray," which closes it. Sandwiched between are pianist George Cables
' "Helen's Song," drummer John von Ohlen's "The Pond," the Brazilian-themed "Lapinha," Ralph Burns
' shapely "Bijou," Thad Jones
' shuffling "Big Dipper" and a pair of engaging originals by Hamar, "The Barn" and "Bucket O' Fat" (on which his resonant bass sets the compass).
Those who have heard the peerless Jeff Hamilton Trio before should know pretty much what to expect from its latest excursion; those who haven't should experience the galvanic sensation that comes with unforeseen discovery.
Make Me Rainbows; Helen’s Song; Catch Me If You Can; The Pond; Lapinha; The Barn; Bucket O’ Fat; Bijou; Big Dipper;