Linley Hamilton – Making Other Arrangements
(Teddy D Records. CD Review by Lauren Bush)
This album has been in the making for at least four years since this Northern Irelander’s last release, In Transition in 2014, but for Linley Hamilton it seems as though this collection of arrangements has been developing for much longer. Inspired by Freddie Hubbard’s large ensemble on Ride Like the Wind, his new album is a concoction of tunes that have been arranged for woodwinds, strings and a rhythm section – with Hamilton’s melodic trumpet line at the forefront.
Cian Boylan, whose arrangements have fulfilled Hamilton’s dream, begin on Here’s to Life. The lyrics are left out only to be replaced by the emotionally charged trumpet line, weaving seamlessly with the strings.
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Track two nods its head to Hubbard as inspiration with Brigitte. Its classic ’80s backbeat’s still there but with a bit of a modern twist and a brilliant solo that connects all the dots from inception to completion.
The sheer variety of music on this album has something for everyone; as we navigate past bebop tradition through a James Taylor staple Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight (with a wicked bass groove) and into Earth, Wind and Fire’s classic After the Love Has Gone with a beautiful string treatment that makes it almost unrecognisable. Again, Hamilton’s solo has an ethereal quality that conveys the vocal line perfectly.
It’s obvious that Hamilton is attracted to a good beat, and including some of his trumpet heroes’ songs is no surprise. Dizzy’s tune Con Alma has a similar Latin feel as Brigitte did with solos from the leader and both sax players Brendan Doyle and Ben Castle weaving through. Continuing on is a rousing rendition of Joan Capetown Flower by Abdullah Ibrahim, with an almost “take me to church” feel, the rhythm section in full sync here as they shift onto another Latin inspiration: Ivan Lins’ Love Dance.
On Louisiana Sunday Afternoon, Hamilton is joined by American singer Dana Masters. The two are good friends and the trumpeter has stepped back to let Dana shine – it momentarily feels like her stage until his solo, where he is beautifully featured over top of a bed of strings – the whole collaboration is showcased so exquisitely.
Another fabulous bass line from Dave Redmond allows for a growly, sensual rendition of Michel Legrand’s What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life? before we are brought home to the warmest, most sincere ending to this fabulous project. Carmel wraps up the whole album, as though walking down a summer street with three scoops of ice-cream in hand. Again, the whole ensemble builds in, one step at a time, enveloping Hamilton’s trumpet in a happy mood comparable to a cheery Beatles tune.
Hamilton’s vision combined with Boylan’s arrangements match each style with an exciting new take and just the right amount of nostalgia for the songs we know so well. What an amazing tapestry of music to showcase this trumpet maestro. It was a pure pleasure to listen to.
There's a lot happening on the Irish scene, north and south. Great to see such a resurgence and yet most people are only discovering what has been an open secret for years. Here are a few more names: David Lyttle (LJN readers may be familiar with( touring soon with Kurt Rosenwinkel, Meilana Gillard, Darren Beckett, Scott Flanigan who has been gigging recently with Dave O'Higgins and is a Take 5 participant this year, Jack Kelly, Joseph Leighton, Victoria Geelan, Edel Meade, Sue Rynhart, Paul Dunlea, Katharine Timoney, Rick Swann, all worth discovering whatever the style you are interested in. And beyond artistry venues and festivals are driving the scene and increasing audiences year in year out, places like Berts, Bennigans, Arthur's, Bagots Hutton, Dolan's, Sligo Jazz, Brilliant Corners, Derry jazz festival, Limerick jazz festival, Bray coming up soon, Cork jazz festival with new ideas for a new generation back again in the autumn. Very different scene to the GB scene in some ways and yet shares some things in common with jazz the world over. The fascinating areas which are unique are where trad Irish and jazz intermingle and also the very different take on free improv and prog here from the likes of Matt Jacobson and Steve Davis. Oh and Irish jazzers love a good theme and how to beautify it to the utmost to make the smallest motif lilt and dare I say swing. Discover Irish jazz for yourself, LJN readers, whatever your taste. You won't regret it.
Excellent from start to finish. ..pure joy
Spot on Stephen. In addition, we must mention Down With Jazz – number one festival for promoting Irish jazz in all its diversity, plus the tremendous Galway Jazz Festival and of course the award-wining 12 Points. Also any gig promoted by promoters Music Network, Improvised Music Company or Moving On Music is a must see.
Any gig/project by Ronan Guilfoyle is special, then there’s the wonderful trio CEO Experiment, who recently played with Kurt Rosenwinkel;Sam Comerford's Thunderblender, Chris Guilfoyle's Umbra – both tremendous bands. Then there's the more experimental, unclassifiable end of the music scene with folk like Ed Bennett (check out his extraordinary new CD Decibel), the Balkan-jazz band Yurodny, electric-jazz/electronics outfit OKO and one of the best improv bands !No!, who also run the improv night Concrete Soup. I should also mention outstanding musicians like Izumi Kimura (amongst the most adventurous, creative pianists in Europe today), guitarist Joe O'Callaghan (jaw-droopingly good), and pianist Francesco Turrisi – a true original, Linley Hamilton – as moving any trumpeter as you'll ever hear, Lauren Kinsella – heir to Norma Winstone and a singer who just gets better and better. I'll pause for breath now – somebody else may have a few more names to throw into the ring.