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November 2004

Jeff Hamilton Trio
The Best Things Happen
Azica Records

Another superb drummer known for his impeccable brush technique and respected for his tasty, melodic and very disciplined approach to the kit is Jeff Hamilton. A former star sideman in trios led by Monty Alexander, Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown, and the driving force behind the dynamic Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Hamilton has assembled a new trio of Los Angeles players for The Best Things Happen (Azica). In the course of demonstrating innumerable ways of putting hip beats together while swinging fervently, Hamilton benefits greatly here from the rock-solid, deep-toned accompaniment of bassist Christoph Luty and the sophisticated harmonic palette and clever arranging skills of pianist Tamir Hendelman. Together they offer an upbeat, crowd-pleasing rendition of Peggy Lee's bluesy "I Love Being Here With You," fueled by Hamilton's infectiously giddy shuffle, and a tricky samba version of Cole Porter's "I Concentrate on You." Hamilton's masterful brushwork comes to the fore on Larry Goldings' catchy "Moonbird" and on two particularly poignant numbers, "We'll Be Together Again" and Hoagy Carmichael's "Skylark." Tamir contributes crafty rearrangements of "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" and the Ellington staple "C Jam Blues" (greatly slowed down here for dramatic effect), and he burns a blue streak on the brisk swinger "Bennissimo," dedicated to fellow pianist Benny Green. Another high point in this virtual drumming clinic is Hamilton's unique take on Vernell Fournier's famous second-line flavored beat on the classic 1958 recording of "Poinciana" with the Ahmad Jamal Trio featuring bassist Israel Crosby. If this album were on vinyl, drum students everywhere would wear the grooves out.

Originally published in November 2004
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