367

Chico Hamilton: The Original Ellington Suite

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Chico Hamilton: The Original Ellington Suite Certainly one of the most significant and exciting jazz discoveries of the year, "The Original Ellington Suite" almost never saw the light of day. In spite of the efforts of re-issue producer extraordinaire, Michael Cuscuna, no one could find this original Chico Hamilton recording of a suite of Ellington tunes that included his second group—and one which significantly involved Eric Dolphy. In fact, "The Original Ellington Suite" reportedly includes the first recorded solos of Eric Dolphy, who would move on soon thereafter to create some of jazz' most magnificent recordings that still are cherished worldwide.

It seems that the Pacific Jazz producer, Dick Bock, preferred the more conventional approach of Hamilton's later reunion group (that included Buddy Collette, Jim Hall, Fred Katz, Carson Smith and Paul Horn) to Dolphy's angularity at the age of 30. Thus, a commercially released version of "Ellington Suite" was released and the version including Dolphy never was. Until now.

Jazz enthusiast John Cobley discovered the first version among the stacks in a British music store and was astounded to find, through peeling layers of discovery, the significance of his purchase. After Cobley contacted Cuscuna, Cuscuna's mission of 25 years was fulfilled.

Presented as an arranged suite of Ellington compositions in similar relaxed tempos and unique instrumentation involving strings and reeds, "The Original Ellington Suite" under-utilizes Dolphy's potential on the two tracks wherein he plays clarinet (one of the few times he plays that instrument). However, on the tunes involving alto sax, Dolphy's command is assured, even as he seems to understate his ability in the interests of unity with the group. While much is made of his influence by Bird, as shown on "Just A-Sittin' And A-Rockin'", a close listen reveals that Dolphy's influences were more complex than that with suggestions of Hodges as well. Dolphy's use of the flute positions him as one of the earlier innovators of that instrument as well.

It may be unfair to focus so much attention on Dolphy at the expense of Hamilton's larger group since "The Original Ellington Suite" features an arranged group sound with interwoven parts, as well as contrasting and complementary timbres. While Dolphy refrains from hinting fully at his unrestrained potential that followed, so do the other musicians. Hamilton, in particular, uses brushwork almost exclusively throughout the recording, except for some effects such as bells, to retain the light, floating interpretation of Ellington standards.

Hamilton's "Ellington Suite" with Collette has been more widely known and distributed. However, the most recent surfacing of the same suite including Dolphy will garner the excitement.


Track Listing: In A Mellotone; In A Sentimental Mood; I'm Just A Lucky So And So; Just A-Sittin' And A-Rockin'; Everything But You; Day Dream; I'm Beginning To See The Light; Azure; It Don't Mean A Thing.

Personnel: Eric Dolphy: saxophone, flute, clarinet; Nate Gershman: cello; John Pisano: guitar; Hal Gaylor: bass; Chico Hamilton: drums.

| Record Label: Capitol Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Algorithmic Society" CD/LP/Track Review Algorithmic Society
by Jim Trageser
Published: October 23, 2016
Read "Beginning of A Memory" CD/LP/Track Review Beginning of A Memory
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 15, 2016
Read "Checking Out" CD/LP/Track Review Checking Out
by Budd Kopman
Published: July 19, 2016
Read "What was said" CD/LP/Track Review What was said
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 20, 2016
Read "Subtle Energy" CD/LP/Track Review Subtle Energy
by Geannine Reid
Published: October 13, 2016
Read "Stick Men + David Cross: Midori" CD/LP/Track Review Stick Men + David Cross: Midori
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 28, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

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!

Buy it!