Jimmy Hamilton may not have recorded very often as a leader while he worked with Duke Ellington for a quarter of a century, but his occasional records on his own are worth exploring. This Fresh Sound CD is a compilation of two Urania releases recorded in 1954, including the complete contents of Accent on Clarinet and four songs from Clarinet in High Fi. Hamilton sticks exclusively to clarinet throughout both sessions. On the first, a piano-less date with fellow Ellington veterans Clark Terry and Oscar Pettiford, as well as Osie Johnson, Barry Galbraith, and rhythm guitarist Sidney Gross, the music is drawn from the Ellington songbook, in addition to standards and originals by the participants. Hamilton lets his hair down with a lively extended solo in "I Get a Kick Out of You." Pettiford's well-known "Bohemia After Dark" is more of a group effort with Terry mostly laying out of the ensemble passages but adding a fat-toned solo following the leader, though Galbraith's solo is also memorable. Terry's perky bop number "Chuckles" and Hamilton's sauntering "Blues for Clarinet" are also first rate. Gross is the only holdover for three of the songs from Clarinet in High Fi, which adds pianist Kenny Kersey, plus Ellington veterans Jimmy Woode on bass and drummer Sam Woodyard. In addition to Gross' lively "Blues for a Princess," two standards are heard, all of which focus extensively on Hamilton. "Tea for Two" goes back to the first lineup, but with pianist Earl Knight taking the place of Terry and Galbraith. The liner notes could have been edited more carefully, as Gross refers to a pair of Hamilton originals that were omitted from this compilation.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden