By: Edward Blanco

Jeff Hamilton has long-established himself as an elite jazz drummer building an impressive resume with the big bands of Tommy Dorsey, Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman’s Young Thundering Herd and later as co-leader—with Grammy-award winning bassist John Clayton—of the Grammy-nominated Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. But leading a jazz trio has been Hamilton’s main focus for the past decade. Along with Christopher Luty—long-time member of the Clayton-Hamilton ensemble—and Israeli-born piano virtuoso Tamir Hendelman, the Jeff Hamilton Trio has been pumping out some of the best music in jazz today. Red Sparkle is the group’s fourth album and follow-up to the critically-acclaimed Symbiosis (Capri, 2009). Studio 4 (2006) and The Best Things Happen (2004), both on the Azica label, were the trio’s previous two albums.

The original Hamilton composition “Ain’t That A Peach” starts the music rolling with swinging boppish flair. Borrowing from Thelonious Monk’s songbook, Hamilton takes the Caribbean-themed “Bye Ya” inserts some aggressive drumming and transforms the piece into a Brazilian-styled burner. One of the classic traditional tunes of the set is Hendelman’s “Hat’s Dance” featuring this piano man’s chops on the keys. Speedy drumming and superb bass lines from Luty paint a delicious new arrangement of that classic standard “Too Marvelous For Words. Luty is also the main feature on the Ray Brown chart “I Know You Oh So Well.”

With soft brush work from the leader, a delicate rhythm and gorgeous melodic lines, the group delivers a beautiful haunting rendition of the Raskin/Mercer immortal piece “Laura.” The title track is a Hamilton special featuring a fast-paced rhythm that captures the furious and sparkling drum work accompanied well by the pianists darting lines. In obvious reference to the great Duke Ellington, bassist Luty contributes the finale piece “In An Ellingtone,” a straight ahead swing with a clear Ellingtonesque flavor closing out the session in stylish fashion.

When sampling the work of clearly, one of the finest trios around, there’s little doubt that what you will experience is going to be a pleasurable sound. Such is the case with this latest project by the Jeff Hamilton Trio. Red Sparkle is another winner, another compelling performance by the terrific trio of jazz, another gem of a recording that shines all over, a “Red Sparkle” of contemporary and modern jazz.
Year: 2012 Label: Capri Records Artist Web: