Jazz CD Reviews

Chico Hamilton – The Inquiring Mind [TrackList follows] – Joyous Shout!:
Dick Hyman & Ken Peplowski – Live at the Ktano [TrackList follows] – The Victoria Company

The latest from two jazz greats who have been around a good long time.

Published on April 27, 2014

Chico Hamilton – The Inquiring Mind [TrackList follows] – Joyous Shout! JS 10016 (2/18/14) ****:

Dick Hyman & Ken Peplowski – Live at the Kitano [TrackList follows] – The Victoria Company VC 4393 ****:

(Hamilton – drums; Paul Ramsey – elec. bass; Evan Scham – saxes, flute, vocals, resident librarian;  Jeremy Carlstedt – drums, percussion & vocals; Nick Demopoulos – guitar & vocals; Mayu Saeki – flute, alto flute & vocals; Guests: George Bohanon – trombone; Jimmy Owns – Flugelhorn & trumpet)

(Hyman – piano; Peplowski – clarinet and tenor sax)

Jazz drummer and bandleader Hamilton had been around for quite a while now. He started out with such as Charles Mingus, Illinois Jacquet and Buddy Collette and spent six years with Lena Horne. His important LA quintet of cello, flute, guitar, bass and drums in 1955 was one of the last West Coast jazz bands. He was heard on the soundtrack of Sweet Smell of Success with Paul Horn and John Pisano. In 1961 he revamped his group, adding Charles Lloyd and Gabor Szabo to plan more chamber jazz, with an avant-garde slant. In 2001 he had formed the group Euphoria and released a CD. He has been the subject of a documentary film titled Dancing to a Different Drummer. In 2006 he released four CDs on the Joyous Shout! label in honor of his 85th birthday. His 2011 album, Revelation, was a tribute to Chico’s longevity as a leader for a selection of Chico originals. He died in 2013, so this session, which doesn’t reveal the date in its notes, was recorded sometime since or at the same time as Revelation.

The performers of his basic sextet show Chico’s fondness for jazz flute, and many of them also perform some vocals. The trombone and Flugelhorn guests play on two or three of the tracks and add a fuller sound to the ensemble. The 19 tracks on this packed album don’t sound like most modern jazz today. Chico’s musicianship evolved from virtuosity delivered from an organically-occurring enmeshment with his art. While a lot of the tracks are originals from him, there are also a number of tracks from members of his band. The short “Gateway to the Inquiring Mind” is the one track with narration which Chico has done on all his recent albums. It concerns something about the Inquiring Mind. The entire album is again more in the chamber jazz bag than the usual bop approach.

TrackList:

1. Joy of Spring
2. Money Wish
3. Up to You
4. Perdido
5. Hope
6. Who Knows?
7. Nice Lick
8. Cho = Chico Hamilton Organization
9. Nate’s Night
10. Tone Poem
11. 534 Play
12. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
13. Gateway to the Inquiring Mind
14. If Tomorrow Never Comes, Where Is Today
15. Reluctant
16. Albert’s Tune
17. Nate Sure
18. No Wheels
19. Any Space in Time

This CD documents a weekend the two jazz performers played at the Kitano Hotel in New York in 2012.They played there to sold-out crowds for two weeks.  They play their unaccompanied duets at such places as the 92nd St. Y in NYC, a club in Sarasota FL, and the Shedd Auditorium in Eugene OR.  Hyman says something he’s never heard before happens with Ken and he improvise together. He says you really have to know and trust your partner when you’re both improvising, and must be prepared to be surprised, plus you need to have a big supply of material in common in your head and hands. This session proves that both performers are not lacking in any of these areas.

Hyman has been doing trad piano for many decades now, and Peplowski is a witty woodwind wonder who had become one of the clarinet kingpins of the day. He plays tenor sax on two tracks and clarinet on the rest. They respect the tradition of jazz, but they don’t look at jazz as a museum piece, and it certainly doesn’t sound like it on this CD.  We get nine tracks, ranging from W.C. Handy thru Comden/Green& Bernstein, to two by Thelonious Monk. Who needs a rhythm section? These guys really lay it out imaginatively. Definitely worth owning.

TrackList:   The Blue Room; Gone With The Wind; I Mean You!; Yellow Dog Blues; Lucky To Be Me; The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise; Ugly Beauty; My Ship; Lover, Come Back To Me/Quicksilver.

—John Henry




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