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Ed Hamilton: Hear In the Now

Guitarist Ed Hamilton distinguishes himself from the herds of “genre” players who stick to one signature style on the expansive and diverse Hear in the Now (Fahrenheit fhr 2002-2; 58:11). While the album mines influences ranging from folk (the intimate, inward-looking picked sound of “Iowa”) to funk (the boogie-moving title track, with its mysteriously dark piano line), the arrangements crackle with tight timing and uncommon attention to detail. As a player and arranger, Hamilton takes chances that pay off: for example, he packs a highly-charged, soulful reworking of “Jazzman” with intensely joyful licks that evoke Carole King’s classic vocal. Equally evocative are his spindly, notey runs on “Out From the Urban Sky,” which come across as thoughts in motion over a cloud of timing-shuffle rhythm. Hamilton’s considerable achievement here is crowned by a four-piece suite dedicated to his late father. Meditative and complicated, these pieces draw upon light blues-oriented sways and pretty piano work to communicate powerful messages of sweet remembrance mixed with sadness.

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