The release Chico Hamilton - Twelve Tones of Love features 15 original songs written by Chico that project new levels of emotion and elements of a sound that is the signature style of the living legend Chico Hamilton.
Twelve Tones of Love: A Piece of Music; Happiness Prevails; George: Nonchalant; Lazy Afternoon; Charlie Parker Suite; Penthouse A; On The Trail; Broadway; If You Can't Beat ‘em, Fight ‘em; Really Makes My Day; First Light; Raul Steinway; I Don't Know Why (I Just Do); Lonely Woman; Brother Bob; The Alto of Kelso
Personnel: Chico Hamilton: Drums, Vocals; Cary DeNigris: Guitar; Paul Ramsey: Fender Bass; Evan Schwam: Flute, Soprano and Tenor Saxophone; Eddie Barbash: Flute, Soprano and Alto Saxophone; Ian Young: Alto Saxophone; Jeremy Carlstedt: Percussion; George Bohanon: Trombone; Jose James: Vocals; Jack Kelso: Alto Saxophone (Tracks 17 & 18)
Chico Hamilton - Twelve Tones of Love was produced by Chico Hamilton and released on the Joyous Shout!label. Where do you start when trying to create a recap of the background for a legend like Chico Hamilton? You could start with over 7 decades as a musician, or over 50 albums that he recorded under his name and countless other recordings with the likes of Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Tony Bennett, Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and the complete list would be a thick book in itself, or that Chico is still as fresh in his sound and progressive in his writing at the age of 88, but I believe the impressive point is a combination of all of the above, along with the fact that he wrote or co-wrote 15 new tracks of the 18 songs on the 75+ minute Twelve Tones of Love. Chico Hamilton is a treasure for the music industry, now if we could only bottle his energy, enthusiasm, and creativity, so that throngs of music lovers long into the future will be able to hear new and progressive music like we continue to receive from this legend. This is truly a remarkable individual and a release that you will need to add to your collection.
The release opens with the track A Piece of Music that was co-written by Chico and his lifelong friend Jack Kelso. The melody is embracing like a warm ray of sunshine on your face, Chico's music creates a mood and feeling, it is not about any individual instrument or musician, but it is about the total sound. Many of the tracks were written with regards to times in his life and friends he has embraced over the years showing that no matter how long you perform, the respect goes to those that were there to help you along your journey. Happiness Prevails livens up the pace and rolls out the horn section while Chico holds down a tight and rolling baseline. The track George was written for his friend and 60's band mate George Bohanon and leads with Chico's legato call of "George" that is passed on to George Bohanon on muted trombone before the rest of the band swaggers in and dynamically changes the feeling and emotion of the song, which is a signature style of Chico Hamilton's writing.
The cover of Lazy Afternoon, first recorded by Tony Bennett with Chico on drums for the Tony Bennett release A Beat of My Heart, is performed by vocalist Jose James, a student of Chico's, with Chico reprising his role on percussion. The recording is a duet of Chico on mallets where he shows a touch on the skins that complements the tone and tempo of Jose's vocals. The track Charlie Parker Suite was written by Chico in 2007 for the 15th Annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival. The piece reflects the complexity and depth that Charlie Parker rendered, as well as a dual percussion section that lays the groundwork for the band. Charlie Parker was a major influence on Chico showing him depth and levels of rhythm that he never heard before, as well as Chico wanted to reflect Charlie's touch when playing the melody.
Other tracks include the originals, Penthouse A, an easy listening jazz piece that uncovers different elements of percussion tied to guitar and bass lines, a very interesting song; Broadway that features great guitar and flute works; If You Can't Beat ‘em, Fight ‘em leading with a mesmerizing saxophone, bass, and drum skin/cymbal sound that a snake charmer would beg for; Really Makes My Day is a short piece that features Chico on vocals reciting a poem for his wife Ellen; and Steinway conjures memories of Chico's early days when he and his friend Gerald Wilson would take their turns playing on a Steinway, the track is poignant and the emotional elements of Chico's percussion work float to the top of each line and chord.
With 18 tracks to play and replay, there are textures, elements, emotions, and components of sound that you will find each time you listen to Twelve Tones of Love. A masterful release by a master of the genre and a living legend, what more could you ask for?