Jazz CD Reviews

Chico Hamilton – Revelation – Joyous Shout

The drum master still on a roll (like Gerald Wilson)….

Published on December 11, 2011

Chico Hamilton – Revelation – Joyous Shout

Chico Hamilton – Revelation – Joyous Shout JS 10015, 77:54 ****:

(Chico Hamilton, drums and vocals; Nick Demopoulos, guitar and vocals; Paul Ramsey, bass and vocals; Evan Schwan, saxophones, flute, piccolo, and vocals; May Saeki, flute, piccolo, and vocals; Jeremy Carlstedt, drums, percussion, and vocals)

Chico Hamilton and Roy Haynes are our two Ever-Ready drummers. Hamilton turned 90 earlier this year, and Haynes is in his late 80s. Both look half their age and have the energy of the young musicians that they surround themselves with. Chico and Roy are clearly the leaders and inspirations for the mostly unknown musicians that they employ. Both of these masters have seen jazz history and played with all the greats back in the day, yet are not content to sit on their laurels. Playing an instrument that demands physical energy, they have kept in shape and have no intention of slowing down as long as their health remains vital.

For Hamilton’s latest release, Revelations, his band has recorded a mind-boggling 22 tracks. Chico demonstrates his undiminished skills with brushes, drum sticks and percussion. Where Haynes concentrates on intensity, Hamilton has more of a lighter touch with world music taking the place of the more bop-oriented fare that Haynes features. Hamilton is known for his introduction of chamber jazz in the mid ’50s on the West Coast with Buddy Collette, Jim Hall, and Fred Katz. He later branched out to fusion, avant, and hard bop, while also doing commercial and studio work in Los Angeles.

His latest touring group, the sextet, Euphoria, have been with him awhile and are heavy into the lighter saxophones, flutes, and piccolo. With just two exceptions, Chico or his band members, composed all the tracks on Revelation.

“Brushes” demonstrates Hamilton’s mastery of the soft touch that brushes provide. “Evanly” like many of the tracks puts Chico out front with joyous world rhythms provided by flute and/or piccolo. The mood setting is light, swinging, and infectious. “Song for Lynne” features special guest Lynne Schwan, on flute, and is taken at waltz time. “Stompin at the Savoy” gets a conga read, and lopes along highlighted by the guitarist. Only the vocals drag down the tune down a bit.

Paul Ramsey’s Fender bass adds some funk to “Because I Care.” “Ten Minutes to Twelve,” written by Chico would be perfect for a film soundtrack on a “who-dunit.” Bossa nova is given a fun ride on “Don’t Go Away.

A brief pop-blues, “Every Time I Smile” lets Chico vocalize and his voice still has some steadiness. “Midnight on Montrose Ave” provides a film noir visit to LA.

“Dilemma” has a flute-driven rhythm that will get your feet tapping. Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing” gives Hamilton center stage with a shuffle beat and the band has the familiar vocal refrain, with a soulful sax solo added in for good measure. “Phyllis” must have been written for a sensuous woman, as Paul Ramsey’s bass combined with the sax solo add a mysterious flamenco-like mood.

Revelation provides a pleasant visit with Chico and Company as they shift moods, and cover many diverse musical styles done with a sheen of polish that shines brightly with its ageless leader as its fuse.

Tracklist: Brushes, Evanly, No Way LA, Song for Lynne, Paul Ain’t Home, Evan’s Along, P & E, Stompin’ At the Savoy, Because I Care, Ten Minutes to Twelve, Don’t Go Away, Every Time I Smile, Gena, Midnight on Montrose Ave., Dilemma, EHH, You’re Not Alone, Do With What, Do What With, It Don’t Mean a Thing…, Phyllis, Black Eyed Peas, Footprints in the Sand, EP

—Jeff Krow




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