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Published: 2001/11/21
by Brad Weiner

Foreststorn – Chico Hamilton

Koch Jazz 7870
Have you ever heard of Chico Hamilton? A few weeks ago I was in the group
shouting a resounding "no". It didn’t take long to become a true convert,
interested in spreading the gospel. The short version is that he’s a
drummer.
More specifically, he’s a jazz drummer. The best way for me to put it is
that
he is a drummer’s drummer.
Hamilton has an impressive resume. He’s played with the likes of Young,
Ellington, Basie, Dolphy, Vaughn and a slew of others. If you don’t know
these
people then you have wandered into the wrong review. Fortunately for us,
Hamilton does have a new recording, and it is buffet of great grooves,
played
by great musicians.
The new disc is called "Foreststorn". This is Hamilton’s real first name, as
well as the name of his late son to whom the album is dedicated. The songs
range greatly in style, but the whole album is a well played composition.
Hamilton’s drumming is at the very back of this. He lays down heavily
accented
beats that bring about a solid acoustic jazz funk. He gets a lot of help
from
guitarist Cary DeNigris, who sheds the crispy clean, jazz sound for a
crunchy,
wah-wah pedal feel.
This type of album has appeared all over the jazz charts in the past few
years. John Scofield pulled it off twice with "A Go Go" and his ultra-funky
"Bump". Joshua Redman let loose on "Freedom in the Groove" and Christian
McBride
blew the doors off with "Sci-Fi". It is apparent that the loose jamband feel
has
dripped into the jazz world and the traditional jazz musicians welcome the
freedom with open arms.
Hamilton and his band shine on That Boy With the Long Hair, a
Latin-based
tune with flowing flute solos provided by multi-instrumentalist Erik
Lawrence.
The tune has a very lyrical feel and bounces along through chorus after
chorus
of traded solos. Think elevator music in the funkiest place on earth. It has
a
goofy nostalgia, but enough musical energy to make it fly.
The next tune I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town is rooted
deeply in the
blues. Hamilton drums it out slowly and deliberately. The tune is soulful
and
flowing, but you haven’t even heard the best part: John Popper’s plays the
Blues we have always wanted to hear in the Traveler. Popper studied with
Hamilton at New York’s New School. This tune also showcases Hamilton’s deep
voice singing some emotionally charged blues. Other guests include Erik
Pearson, Spin Doctor Eric Schenkman and Rolling Stone Charlie Watts, who
adds
additional percussion to an already beat-friendly disc.
"Foreststorn", although tough to pronounce, is what I always look for in a
jazz
CD. It isn’t overly pretentious and doesn’t have long ear-shattering solos.
The instrumentalists are subdued and always work as a group to keep the
genre
of jazz an improvisational art. The cornerstone of the album is the groove.
You will find yourself tapping your fingers on the table and bobbing your
head
within the first track.

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