Monday, 22 September 2008

Chico Hamilton - The Best of (Impulse!)

The Best of Chico Hamilton

82 MB
256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Impulse! AS-9174

“I don't play music for people. I play music for music's sake.”
- Chico Hamilton, All About Jazz interview

Continuing with the Chico Hamilton edition of Give The Drummer Some!, we have another "best of" package from Impulse! that follows through quite nicely by pulling material from the early 60s phase of the Quintet. It seems one of my favourite tracks on here, "Conquistadores," is finally starting to get the love it deserves and has popped up on a couple comps the last few years. The collection is also notable for the final track which was Larry Coryell's biggest contribution to The Dealer, his debut recording in the jazz world.

In fact, if nothing else, Chico will be fondly remembered as the man who either gave some of the world's jazz giants their first big break in the biz or allowed young players (like Paul Horn and Eric Dolphy) the unrestricted freedom to develop their own unique voice. For instance, Gabor Szabo had this to say about his stint with Hamilton in the September 26, 1964, issue of Melody Maker:

"When I was studying at Berklee," he added in discussing his own role, "I got the feeling I couldn't play the instrument at all, because I could not use my own things as they didn't fit any set pattern. When I joined Chico, he helped me immensely to develop my own style. He never forced me in any set way. At all times, he encouraged me to be myself on the instrument."

Unlike yesterday's post, I'm going to list each player's appearances since Doug Payne made it so dang easy with his comprehensive research on Szabo, who provides guitar for all but one track on this collection. One other peculiarity of this compilation is that it seems to have gone out of its way to avoid inclusion of brass in many tracks. For instance, El Chico is noted for being the only recording to document the time Sado Watanabe spent with the Quintet, yet the two tracks included are the only ones on which he did not play. It might be due to the same type of contractual issues presently preventing Impulse! from reissuing a huge chunk of their back catalogue - although it could also be because they are far and away the best two tracks on the album :-)

Chico Hamilton - Drums
Charles Lloyd - Tenor Sax (1), Flute (3)
Jimmy Woods - Tenor Sax (3)
Arnie Lawrence - Alto Sax (7)
Larry Coryell - Guitar (7)
Gabor Szabo - Guitar (1,2,3,4,5,6)
Albert Stinson - Bass (1,2,3,4)

Ron Carter - Bass (5,6)

Richard Davis - Bass (7)

Willie Bobo - Percussion (2,3,4,5,6)
Victor Pantoja - Percussion (2,4,5,6)
Ernie Hayes - Organ (7)

1 Forest Flower - Sunrise / Forest Flower - Sunset [Man From Two Worlds 1963]
2 People
[El Chico 1965]
3 Chic Chic Chico [Chic Chic Chico 1965]
4 Conquistadores (The Conquerors) [El Chico 1965]
5 Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me) [The Further Adventures of El Chico 1966]
6 Evil Eye
[The Further Adventures of El Chico 1966]
7 Larry Of Arabia [The Dealer 1966]

It was also during this period that Hamilton branched out into TV and film work to a greater degree. In 1957 he had scored The Sweet Smell of Success (a superb film noir revolving around the seedier aspects of the music and entertainment industry) as well as making a cameo appearance with the Quintet, featuring Paul Horn and John Pisano. The year after he appeared at the Newport Jazz Fest and the recording of their legendary performance documented in Jazz On A Summer's Day was the first time Eric Dolphy entered the consciousness of the mainstream world, sandwiched between Chuck Berry and Louis Armstrong no less! Other than that, it was pretty quiet on the A/V front for a few years.

Chico Hamilton Quintet in
The Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Chico Hamilton Quintet performs "Blue Sands"
at Newport Jazz Fest (1958)

However, it was being asked to score Roman Polanski's classic Repulsion in '64 while in the UK backing Lena Horne that really started the ball rolling for Chico's career in commercial composition. Based on an assortment of interviews, Chico's not much of a romantic where music is concerned and he sure ain't big on nostalgia, but Repulsion obviously holds a special place in his heart. The actual soundtrack is extremely rare, with only a small run put out by Italy's CAM records. If you see it on vinyl, pounce on it as it is worth m-e-g-a-b-u-c-k-s. From there on, he was in high demand for theme and incidental music and he churned it out for films and TV on the side over the next 20 years, never forsaking his own recordings and gigs for too long even while teaching jazz at NYC's New School University.

When asked why he ultimately got off the TV gravy train in a recent All About Jazz Q&A, he had this to say:

"Well I found that it became boring. Very boring. Plus I found out that it bleeds you. I found out I was just doing things, just for the money. TV will ruin you; it uses up your talent."

Can I get a "amen!" brothers and sisters?

This collection has been OOP for over three decades and, like most of Chico's work on the label, it has never seen CD reissue. Since you're unable to make an Impulse! purchase of this collection, Soundological offers it to you at the deepest discount available HERE or HERE.


Gianni said...

tracks 3 & 4 sono fantastiche!
grazie mille.

Anonymous said...

Smooth at MyJazzWorld had also posted this but I did not know until today. His original RS link is here:

apf said...

Thank you!