Chico Hamilton: It's About Time! (2008)
"It's about time," a common phrase of exasperated relief, has deeper temporal meanings as the title of Chico Hamilton's new CD. Its primary reference is to keeping time on the drums, which Hamilton has done skillfully for over a half-century. Moreover, the drums/bass/guitar trio setup on this disc is the same type he used on his 1955 debut as a leader, which gives the album a retrospective aspect. Finally, It's About Time! is a mere 28 minutes longa time frame which many jazz players use nowadays simply to clear their throats.
Throughout the album Hamilton uses his savvy and experience to lay down steady, unpretentious foundations for guitarist Cary DeNigris and bassist Paul Ramsey to work off. Hamilton establishes a cymbal-driven line to drive DeNegris' Jim Hall inflections on the private eye-slick "Cary"; his haunting echoed mallets serve as a wonderful background on "Autumn in New York"; he scampers on brushes behind Ramsey's splendid electric bass on "What If" and attacks the drums with overall dynamism on "Nod to Gabor." DeNigris' flowing, octave-punctuated chords on the up-tempo waltz "6/8 for Chico" are dynamite. Hamilton's vocalizing and playing on the rapid-fire "Nuttye," which he played on that first session so many years ago, brings this delightful Janus-type endeavor full circle.
Hamilton's straight-ahead, unembroidered playing and on-point interplay with DeNigris and Ramsey proves that you don't need a whole lot of noise and chest thumping to make timeless music.
Track Listing: Cary; Autumn in New York; What If; Tone Poem in D; Nod to Gabor; Paul; 6/8 for CH; Nuttye (for Jimmy).
Personnel: Chico Hamilton: drums and vocals; Cary DeNigris: guitar; Paul Ramsey: Fender bass.