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thoughts of… by Chico Hamilton

The second track of the Chico Hamilton’s latest recording, "thoughts of.... " sets the tone for the rest of the album. ‘Angel Eyes’ starts with bandleader Chico Hamilton leaning back, gesturing and muttering to his buddies: "So drink up all you people, order anything you want.... cuz the drinks are on me.... I mean, I’m buying.... " So starts a sly but amiable bar-room rumble of Hamilton’s band. This is late night listening when all the fuss of the daytime world is over and the night, midnight, begins. It’s quieter, more reflective, and there is a sexual tension in the air. The music is hardly caustic and sharp, but mostly hauntingly fuzzy after a few hard drinks.

‘Rusty Dusty Blues’ (Harlem Nocturne) is a sleazy, slinky tease that features guitarist Larry Coryell. After Coryell plays a brilliant solo and the horns jump back in, you can almost hear the bar patrons applauding. Hamilton then sings some juicy blues lamenting that: ".... Times and things ain’t what they used to be." And the drinks are raised lazily in affirmation.

Cary DeNigris is featured on ‘Je Ka Jo’ with its easy-going, sweet-hearted theme punctuated with DeNigris’ precise and penetrating guitar work. By contrast, ‘Mother Tucker’ sounds rather bawdy and displays an incisive guitar solo by Joe Beck. Guitarist Rodney Jones provides a supple introductory solo on ‘Could Be’ before the horns slip flamboyantly into a momentary striptease. Jones then returns with a quiet duet with DeNigris and again they are submerged by the flagrantly belligerent horn section.

Hamilton pauses and pays tribute to his heroes, John Coltrane, Lester Young, and Miles Davis. ‘Thoughts of Trane’ is a gorgeous introspective piece performed by DeNigris, bassist Paul Ramsey and especially saxophonist Evan Schwam. Schwam also takes the lead on ‘Thoughts of Prez,’ updated danceable funk that swings and sways. ‘Thoughts of Miles’ is based on ‘Freddie Freeloader’ and features Karolina Straussmayer on alto saxophone.

Hamilton seems to sum up his thoughts and passion on the final track, ‘Bull Rush’ which is an engaging, uplifting, dawn-breaking romp. This is man who loves his music and the companionship of his fellow musicians.

"thoughts of.... " is great fun.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Chico Hamilton
  • CD Title: thoughts of…
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: Koch Records
  • Tracks: Thoughts of Miles (Freddie Freeloader), Angel Eyes, Thoughts of Prez, Space for Stacy, PJ, People, Je Ka Jo (Joaquin’s Dream Version), Mother Tucker, Could Be, Spring Again, Rusty Dusty Blues (Mama Mama Blues), Thoughts of Trane, Bull-Rush
  • Musicians: Chico Hamilton (drums, percussion & vocals), Cary DeNigris (guitar), Paul Ramsey (fender bass), Erik Lawrence (alto & soprano saxophones), Evan Schwam (tenor saxophone), Karolina Straussmayer (flute, alto & soprano saxophone), Joe Beck (guitar), Larry Coryell (guitar), Rodney Jones (guitar)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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