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Linley Hamilton: Ginger's Hollow

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Linley Hamilton: Ginger's Hollow
The follow-up to trumpeter Linley Hamilton's For The Record (Teddy D Records, 2020) has taken over three years to materialize, but when you consider what transpired globally in that time, just the act of picking up where he left off is something of a victory in itself. Talk about the difficult second album... Hamilton's trans-Atlantic quartet has its roots in the annual summer school/festival Sligo Jazz Project, where Hamilton, drummer Adam Nussbaum and bassist Mark Egan have all taught. The New York duo are once again joined by pianist Cian Boylan and saxophonist Derek Doc O'Connor on a spirited set of hard-bop and soul-jazz-influenced originals.

Whereas writing duties were liberally shared on For The Record, here, Hamilton stamps his authority on every composition, with Boylan sharing writing/co- writing credits. Nor is there a cover in sight. It is perhaps no coincidence that Hamilton, in tandem with O'Connor, enjoys the lion's share of the solos. This is Hamilton expressing his growing confidence as a leader, bossing a session that balances fire and finesse.

The quintet opens its account with the post-bop burner "Shinebox," while infectious tunes "Sunday Morning" and "Stonky" exude the funky, upbeat vibe of summer anthems. The classic quintets of Lee Morgan and Cannonball Adderley could almost have provided the blueprint; memorable unison heads, uncluttered grooves and tasteful embellishments lay the foundation for impassioned soloing from the front-line duo. You can take your pick of Hamilton and O'Connor's solos, but suffice it to say, both are in excellent form—melodious improvisors of the old school.

Hamilton's pure, burnished tone shines on the album's more mellow tunes, "Ginger Hollow" and "Jason's Dream." There are shades of Branford Marsalis's theme to Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues on the former, with trumpet and saxophone dovetailing beautifully. Boylan, on electric keys, conjures his inner Bob James with a solo light of touch but laden with emotive heft, qualities that also imbue Hamilton and O'Connor's playing on the latter tune.

As you might expect, Nussbaum and Egan bring a little of their own star quality to proceedings. Nussbaum injects some New Orleans pep into the fiery "Place at The Ace" and cuts loose on the upbeat set closer "Watch Those Eyes," while Egan stretches out on the handsomely mellifluous "Lost in The Crowd." But on the whole they take a largely supportive role —safety-net and springboard—in service of the music. With respect to these storied jazz veterans, it is fair to say that it is the Irish musicians who are the real stars of this recording.

Instantly accessible yet impassioned, unabashedly straight-ahead yet finely textured, Ginger's Hollow is a notable effort from the indefatigable Hamilton, a musician who gets better with age and, over 7,000 gigs on, his remarkable work ethic.

Track Listing

Shinebox; Sunday Morning; Stonky; Ginger's Hollow; Place at the Ace; Jason's Dream; Lost in the Crowd; Watch Those Eyes.

Personnel

Additional Instrumentation

Cian Boylan: organ, Fender Rhodes.

Album information

Title: Ginger's Hollow | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Whirlwind Recordings


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