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This disc was recorded in a hurry. Wolfgang Hirschmann, the legendary recording engineer of the WDR Big Band in Cologne, expressed a wish to record the Jeff Hamilton Trio before his imminent retirement. This meant the group had about two months to come up with a final set list and arrangements in the midst of a packed gigging schedulea challenge these three pros brilliantly met, as the recording demonstrates. And it was clearly worth the rush, since the recording has a wonderfully warm and balanced feel.
It's difficult to identify the high points on this consistently excellent disc, but personal favorites include Luty's witty, bass-centered arrangement of "I've Never Been in Love Before" and Hendelman's classy take on "A Felicidade"the most elegant I've ever heard, as well as a showcase for Hamilton's celebrated hand drumming technique. "Too Close for Comfort" is an irresistible, flat-out burner, and Luty's eloquent bowing sings the luscious melody of "So Many Stars." The group has fun with "Epistrophy," which features a solo by Hamilton and some of the pitch-bending he's famous for, allowing his drum to transcend percussion and become a melodic instrument (see also "Lullaby of the Leaves").
Add some fresh arrangements of old standards like "Moonglow" and "Autumn Nocturne," wrap things up with a swinging original (Hamilton's rousing "2nd Street Samba"), and you have a thoroughly pleasing package, varied and tasteful and expertly played. Trio jazz just doesn't get any better than this.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.