All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Interviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

11

Linley Hamilton: Strings Attached

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
You just play the music that moves you. I never think of anything I play as beneath a jazz musician. I never think of jazz as the higher art. I appreciate all music. —Linley Hamilton
Nearly all recordings are labours of love. Passion and a huge amount of work are the essential ingredients. Some recordings in particular, however, mark the realization of a life-long dream. For Northern Irish trumpeter, BBC jazz broadcaster and university lecturer Linley Hamilton, Making Other Arrangements (Teddy D Records, 2018) is just such a recording.

Backed by a cracking, small jazz ensemble—some of the finest musicians in Ireland—Hamilton has fulfilled a burning, career-long ambition by adding strings to songs that he has held dear down the years. The twelve-piece Camden String Orchestra, with Cian Boylan's lush arrangements, bring a romantic lustre and orchestral flare to classic songs from the jazz cannon and the worlds of pop, musicals and cinema. Yet despite the arrangements, Making Other Arrangements is fundamentally improvised music, with fine individual performances throughout. At the centre of it all though is Hamilton, who, whether on trumpet or flugelhorn, plays with lyricism, exquisite melodic sensibility, emotional nuance and great technical finesse.

The roots ofMaking Other Arrangements go back twenty five years or more, when Hamilton was embarking on a career as a professional musician with a love of jazz.

"I was always a big jazz listener but I wasn't one of those guys who would put a jazz record on, take it off, and put another one on," Hamilton relates. "Generally, if I found a record it was on for five months. "

The first album that struck a deep chord with the young Hamilton was a live album by Red Rodney and Ira Sullivan's quintet Alive in New York (Muse, 1980). Rodney and Sullivan's early 1980s quintet was one of the finest post-bop bands of the day -Hamilton was hooked. "It was nuts," he says. "I played it so often it had to be forcibly taken off by someone else in the house—either that or they were going to move out." The next album to impact Hamilton would effectively fire his imagination to envisage his own recording with strings, one day in the future. The album in question was Freddie Hubbard's Ride Like the Wind (Elektra/Musician, 1982).

"Freddie was such a great straight-ahead, bebop and post player, maybe the best," ventures Hamilton. "I got hooked on Freddie. On that album he used strings, an orchestral ensemble with flute, French horn and flugel horn—not dissimilar to the line-up I'm using on Making Other Arrangements. He wrote this one tune "Brigitte" for his wife and I fell in love with that tune. I thought, god, someday, someday I'm going to record that. A quarter of a century later Hamilton has done just that. "Brigitte" is the second track on Making Other Arrangements, showcasing Hamilton's outstanding playing, as personally recognizable in his own way, as Hubbard's was. No less significant is the role, here and throughout the album of pianist arranger Cian Boylan.

Boylan and Hamilton struck up a friendship while both were studying for a Masters in Jazz Performance in Dublin in 2008. Jazz lovers, both were equally open to all sorts of other music. With Making Other Arrangements drawing inspiration from the compositions of Dizzy Gillespie, Ivan Lins, James Taylor, David Foster, Michel Legrand Abdullah Ibrahim, Artie Butler, Frank Golde and Peter Ivers, Hamilton required an arranger with open ears. Boylan was the obvious choice.

"Cian [Boylan] is very similar to me in that he loves jazz but he also loves rock, pop and singer-songwriters—a very eclectic mix of music," explains Hamilton. "I've played an awful lot of his arrangements in different concerts in the National Concert Hall [Dublin's premier formal concert hall] and I thought it would be really nice if he did the arrangements because it would be maybe a less angular approach to the harmony and it would make it a soloists album, which is what I wanted it to be."

The ten tracks are peppered with fine improvisations from Hamilton, Boylan, guitarist Nigel Clarke and saxophonists Ben Castle and Brendan Doyle—the latter pair who also double on woodwind instruments. Bassist Dave Redmond and drummer Guy Rickarby, like the strings, play a more supportive though essentially bouyant role. Doyle and Rickarby, in particular have long associations with Hamilton. The former played with Hamilton in the Irish Youth Jazz Orchestra when both were in their teens, while Rickarby first recorded with Hamilton in 2001. "Having those two guys on the record means a lot to me personally as well as musically," says Hamilton.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Randy Weston: The Spirit of Our Ancestors Interviews
Randy Weston: The Spirit of Our Ancestors
by Ludovico Granvassu
Published: September 7, 2018
Read Val Wilmer: Dues And Testimony Interviews
Val Wilmer: Dues And Testimony
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 5, 2018
Read Bob James: Piano Player Interviews
Bob James: Piano Player
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: September 3, 2018
Read Ben Wolfe: The Freedom to Create Interviews
Ben Wolfe: The Freedom to Create
by Stephen A. Smith
Published: September 1, 2018
Read Peter Epstein: Effortless Precision Interviews
Peter Epstein: Effortless Precision
by Stephen A. Smith
Published: September 1, 2018
Read Dan Shout: In With a Shout Interviews
Dan Shout: In With a Shout
by Seton Hawkins
Published: August 31, 2018
Read "Salim Washington: To Be Moved to Speak" Interviews Salim Washington: To Be Moved to Speak
by Seton Hawkins
Published: May 30, 2018
Read "Mark Morganelli: Adds Club Owner To His Resume" Interviews Mark Morganelli: Adds Club Owner To His Resume
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: February 12, 2018
Read "Jamie Saft: Jazz in the Key of Iggy" Interviews Jamie Saft: Jazz in the Key of Iggy
by Luca Canini
Published: October 20, 2017
Read "Julian Priester: Reflections in Positivity" Interviews Julian Priester: Reflections in Positivity
by Paul Rauch
Published: December 8, 2017
Read "Django Bates: Generous Abundance" Interviews Django Bates: Generous Abundance
by Ludovico Granvassu
Published: June 22, 2018