Jimmy Hamilton

Can't Help Swinging

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Jimmy Hamilton spent 25 years (1943-68) with Duke Ellington's Orchestra, gaining recognition as a technically skilled cool-toned clarinetist and an occasional (but underused) booting tenor player. His own recording projects were very infrequent and his two Swingville LPs (reissued in full on this 1999 CD) were formerly very scarce. For one of the dates (originally called It's About Time), Hamilton is matched in a sextet with flugelhornist Clark Terry, trombonist Britt Woodman, pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Wendell Marshall and drummer Mel Lewis for a set of mostly blues. Terry and Woodman are quite exuberant throughout. The Can't Help Swingin' album showcases Hamilton with pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Wendell Marshall and drummer Earl Williams in a quartet. Although Hamilton plays some clarinet (most notably on the atmospheric "Dancing on the Ceiling"), the emphasis throughout both sets is on his rarely heard tenor. He is less bop-oriented and more basic on the bigger horn than on his usual ax, swinging hard and showing just how strong a tenor player he could be. Worth exploring.

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