Lucid Culture


Concert Review: Chico Hamilton at Borders Books & Music/Columbus Circle, NYC 4/30/09

The legendary percussionist made his way to the drum kit gingerly but once he got there he was all business. 87 years old and still absolutely vital. This wasn’t Elvin Jones in his last heartbreaking days. Since Chico Hamilton teaches at the New School, he’d brought a couple of proteges – one a reed man, the other on bongos – along with his regular guitarist Cary DeNigris and electric bassist Paul Ramsey. Incongruous, to say the least, to see the jazz legend under the soft lights of a bookstore, but the group played like it was the most normal thing in the world (props to the Borders folks for putting this on), running through a mix of classics, older material and songs from Hamilton’s new cd Twelve Tones of Love.

DeNigris didn’t wait to catch fire on their first number, How’s Your Feelins, slamming out a fiery series of big, expansive chords, Hamilton pushing things along on just a snare, switching to doubletime in a split-second with the whole band behind him. On the swing blues My Brother John, he proved he could still spin a stick and not miss a beat, again punching it when least expected and upping the ante in no time at all. The Lester Young tune Broadway, a favorite from Hamilton’s younger days was a clinic in dynamics, up and down again with bluesy solos from DeNigris and the sax player.

What sounded like Mose Allison’s Fools Paradise was vastly darker than the original, Hamilton building an eerie cymbal wash as DeNigris channeled Django Reinhardt, then took a long, incisive, chordal solo out (he was all about big sound that night). From time to time, Hamilton would ham it up – he mimed taking a drag of a smoke and then missing the beat – and on a couple of occasions cut out completely, making sure everybody was paying attention. And they were: after over an hour, Hamilton announced that it was time to go to the bar (coffee bar?) and that he was glad it wasn’t far. Standard stage patter, but there was nothing commonplace about the show. See him if you can, he still brings it.

May 5, 2009 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , ,

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