Path to the Heartland
Former Special EFX guitarist Ed Hamilton's Path to the Heartland (Telarc Jazz Zone CD-83404; 68:50) begins with promise on a spindly, blues-rock styled introduction, but things change immediately into the cleaner, smooth jazz vein as soon as the band kicks in for "South Street Shuffle." Hamilton's album expresses this type of hybrid character throughout, mostly relying upon his fleet fingerings to perch bright, sunny melodies atop conventional grooves ("Yes I Can" and "Beginning Again" recall that Ken Navarro brightness-which is nice for background music, but not very demanding). However, a more mischievous, experimental quality surfaces on songs like the off-kilter swinger, "Lumpy" which features Vince Fay on a loping acoustic bass line, and "The Clock Ticks," which culls a textured, Eastern feel through creative use of mandolin, sitar and mandicello to compliment Hamilton's guitar work. Other highlights include "Monsters in the Closet" with its weird, netherworld keyboards, and "Children Lost," a gentle, pathos-inducing duet between hollow-body guitar and piano. Skip through the first few tracks to find the heart of Hamilton's Heartland.