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One of the appeals of improvised music is that it can put an infinite number of fresh spins on familiar ideas and, sometimes, even infuse new themes with a familiar feel. Although Bob Hamilton's WixWax consists of mostly original (seven out of nine) tunes, the music has a very familiar yet fresh feel to it. It's essentially modern bop-based jazz that doesn't necessarily break new ground, but nevertheless has enough surprises and freshness to delight even the most discriminating ears.
There are two weak points, however. "Grace is a sentimental melody with limited improvisation, while "Dining and Dancing, true to its name, sounds more like the piped-in music one hears at restaurants than a jazz trio piece. Neither fit well with the other energetic musical workouts.
The rest of tunes are often bluesy, often swinging hard bop pieces. Although. Hamilton's website lists Keith Jarrett among his influences, he sounds more like hard bop piano giant Sonny Clark. Bassist Jeff D'Angelo the drummer Duncan Moore are equally talented and appear to be familiar with both one another's and Hamilton's playing. The interaction of the three musicians is, therefore, on an equal footing and is like a pleasant conversation among a group of old and close friends. It is engrossing enough that one does not feel like a mere eavesdropper, but more a part of the conversation.
The melodies of Hamilton's compositions are as solid as Wayne Shorter's "Lester Left Town, and have a logical structure that allows for adventurous improvisation. Despite the weaker tracks, WixWax is a solid hard-bop date from a talented trio and an interesting new composer who deserves better recognition.
Track Listing: Albino Frankie; Isabella's Invitation; Grace; Dining and Dancing; Lester Left Town; Irena Anna; WixWax; I Can't Remember a Thing; Love Letters.
Personnel: Bob Hamilton: piano; Jeff D'Angelo: bass; Duncan Moore: drums.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.