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Music Review: The Jeff Hamilton Trio – Symbiosis

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Jeff Hamilton knows that the secret to a good jazz trio is balance. With The Jeff Hamilton Trio, that balance swings delicately and smoothly through each musical passage, allowing Hamilton’s drums, Tamir Hendelman’s piano and Christoph Luty’s bass to flow easily and freely.

On Symbiosis, the band’s debut for Capri Records, the trio delivers a lasting performance that sways with natural versatility, poise and eloquence. Making their way through up-tempo bebop, cool blues, inspiring ballads, and silky-smooth bossa nova, The Jeff Hamilton Trio impresses on nine vigorous, passionate tracks.

Hamilton has long made tracks as one of the most celebrated drummers in modern jazz. He’s worked with Oscar Peterson, Woody Herman, Count Basie, Monty Alexander and Diana Krall and has been leading his trio since the early 1990s. This current incarnation has been operating for nearly a decade, with Hendelman, Hamilton’s Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra bandmate, joining in 2000.

Symbiosis, which takes its name from a Claus Ogerman composition, is a wonderful gathering of tunes that showcases the talents of each member as they function as a unit. There’s close, true communication between each member of the trio, as no solo proves overpowering and no fill seems too rich or overcooked.

Things get underway with a rousing rendition of “You Make Me Feel So Young.” Hamilton’s brush and cymbal work really shines here, laying down a tight and controlled foundation for Hendelman’s keys before switching to the sticks for something a little more impactful to provide a killer groove underneath the piano solo.

The trio’s interplay rolls along through the slow and sensitive title track, offering bright percussion and a beautifully poignant turn from Hendelman.

The Miles Davis piece “The Serpent’s Tooth” gets done up nicely with a Luty arrangement and a whole lot of fun drum work from Hamilton. His solo is meticulous and eloquent, making the absolute most out of his kit with a flurry of landing punches.

Symbiosis showcases The Jeff Hamilton Jazz Trio at their very best. As they roll through these entertaining, warm, clever pieces of music, one gets the sense that theirs is a union that can’t be forced. There’s nothing put-on about the interplay and the style with which these musicians play. Each passage is fascinating and funky, swaying with a spirit of authenticity and raw swing.

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