A promising album from the trumpeter, which recognises its central force in its title.
John Eyles 2011
After two decades on the Irish jazz scene, trumpeter and flugelhorn player Linley Hamilton has played with such names as Jacqui Dankworth and Van Morrison. Active as a music educator and a Radio Ulster broadcaster, in the past five years he has made a concerted effort to concentrate on jazz. In 2010, he recruited pianist Johnny Taylor, Dublin-based American bassist Dan Bodwell and drummer Dominic Mullan to form this quartet.
While the group features Hamilton and Taylor prominently, the four have quickly gelled into a tight, swinging unit, sounding as if they have been together years. They play bop-inflected mainstream jazz in a solid, reliable way, its appeal mainly lying in its unpretentious simplicity. Taylor Made is their debut recording.
Although credited to Hamilton alone, the album name checks the pianist in its title, in recognition of his contributions to it. It contains no original numbers; its nine tracks are well chosen, an eclectic mix of standards, jazz compositions and pop tunes containing sufficient variety to showcase the band and its members in differing contexts.
The most effective tracks are the Wasserfuhr brothers’ Fade a Little and Abbey Lincoln’s Throw It Away. On each, Taylor’s piano establishes a relaxed, subdued mood, reinforced by atmospheric bass. Hamilton’s mellow tone perfectly suits that mood, as he solos close to the haunting melodies without any histrionics.
Taylor dominates much of the rest of the album. Many of the arrangements are by the pianist, and his intros, fills and solos effectively steer the music. Taylor, Bodwell and Mullan gig together as a trio, and it shows. On this evidence, a trio album from them would be very welcome. It is clear why Hamilton titled the album as he did; at times, the trumpeter could almost be mistaken for a sideman rather than the leader.
Only on the closing track – Rosewood, by trumpet legend Woody Shaw – does Hamilton cut loose and take flight with a prolonged flowing solo in the higher register, punctuated by soaring notes; it brings this promising album to a rousing climax rather at odds with what has gone before.