Chico Hamilton

That's Jazz

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This 1976 LP features two Chico Hamilton groups, both excellent. There are three tracks from June 1959 with Eric Dolphy on alto sax, which were originally on the Hamilton LP Three Faces of Chico. The other tracks are actually five of the six tracks from Hamilton's 1963 LP A Different Journey. Charles Lloyd is the reed player. Invaluable as Dolphy's contribution is on the earlier date -- his amazing technical command and the vocal quality of his playing are in full evidence -- the fact is that each member of this ensemble is outstanding. While Hamilton's groups from the late '50s have been labeled "chamber jazz," there is nothing chamber-like about this intensely swinging and inventive music. Having cellist Nathan Gersham in the group does not make this chamber music. Gersham is a fine jazz player and integral to this group's sound. The tracks from 1963, all written by Lloyd, are challenging pieces, characterized by shifting moods and tempos, which the players execute with absolute skill and passion. Hamilton no longer included a cellist at this point, opting instead for trombonists, in this case the gifted George Bohanon. Guitarist Gabor Szabo contributes high-speed bop solos and rhythm work influenced by his native Hungary's folk music. The bassist is the remarkable Albert Stinson, who anchors the music with an appealing, hyperactive style. The 24-year-old Lloyd is in top form on flute and tenor sax. Throughout, Hamilton is masterful, keeping tempo with his deft, brilliantly percolating cymbal work, while embellishing with stuttering, unexpected accents on the snare and dropping the occasional bass drum bomb. Both sessions underscore the cohesion, discipline, creativity, and originality that Hamilton achieved with his groups from this period.

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