Here is the genius of drummer and composer Jeff Hamilton: in the middle of a program that consists almost entirely of standards like "Laura" and "A Sleepin' Bee" and "Too Marvelous for Words," he takes his trio through a seven-minute version of Stephen Bishop's 1970s schlock-pop hit "On and On." And he turns it into a quiet, softly polished gem of a jazz ballad by doing two things: having pianist Tamir Hendelman keep the melodic elaborations minimal (ensuring that the occasional bluesy flourishes will be all the more effective) and playing almost all of his accompaniment on the tom-toms and on the bells of his ride cymbals. It's the drumming that makes the tune, but unless you pay close attention you won't even notice it. That's what a genius drummer does. Hamilton is also a gifted writer, as the thrilling blues-bop excursion "Red Sparkle" demonstrates, and a very fine interpreter of jazz classics. His arrangement of the Ray Brown composition "I Know You Oh So Well" (which features unusually lovely arco bass playing by Christoph Luty) and a hard-swinging version of "Too Marvelous for Words" are both highlights, and his take on Thelonious Monk's "Bye-Ya" is very interesting: here he simultaneously squares up and dislocates the rhythms of Monk's Carribbean-flavored composition, creating a version that may not be completely successful but is nevertheless lots of fun -- and it's always good to hear someone with the confidence to make a Monk tune his own. Fans of contemporary straight-ahead jazz won't be disappointed.
AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson