The Chico Hamilton Quintet

 

  • This superb live recording finally makes its Hot Stamper debut, boasting a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side one
  • A killer mono pressing, with solid weight, lovely richness and warmth, real separation between the instruments and wonderful immediacy throughout
  • Recorded live at The Forum Theater in Los Angeles in 1956, this vintage pressing boasts exceptionally natural sound, as well as the energetic live interplay of these five musicians (including a cellist)

NOTE: This is not the quietest copy we’ve ever heard, but it’s certainly one of the best-sounding. If you want to hear how amazing this album can sound and don’t mind a little surface noise, this is the copy to get! If for any reason you are not happy with the sound or condition of the album we are of course happy to take it back for a full refund, including the domestic return postage.


Need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? These original World Pacific pressings are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here.

This vintage pressing has the kind of Midrange Magic that modern records barely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it ain’t coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting live at The Forum in Los Angeles with The Chico Hamilton Quintet, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage Analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of Chico Hamilton Quintet from 1957 have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1957
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the venue

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

What We’re Listening For on Chico Hamilton Quintet

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitars, horns and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt — Richard Bock in the case — would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

The Players

Chico Hamilton – drums
Paul Horn – tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, flute, clarinet
Fred Katz – cello
John Pisano – guitar
Carson Smith – bass

TRACK LISTING

Side One

I Know (Theme)
Chanel #5
Beanstalk
September Song
Siete-Cuatro
Mr. Jo Jones
I Know (Theme)

Side Two

Satin Doll
Lillian
Reflections
Soft Winds
Caravan
I Know (Theme)

About Chico Hamilton

Foreststorn “Chico” Hamilton, (September 20, 1921 – November 25, 2013) was an American jazz drummer and bandleader. He came to prominence as sideman with the likes of Lester Young, Gerry Mulligan, Count Basie and Lena Horne. Hamilton then struck out as a bandleader, first with a quintet featuring the cello as a lead instrument, an unusual choice for a jazz band in the 1950s, and subsequently leading a number of groups over the years that performed cool jazz, post bop and jazz fusion.

Hamilton started his career in a band with Charles Mingus, Illinois Jacquet, Ernie Royal, Dexter Gordon, Buddy Collette and Jack Kelso before he had finished high school. Engagements with Lionel Hampton, Slim & Slam, T-Bone Walker, Lester Young, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Charlie Barnet, Billy Eckstine, Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr., Billie Holiday, Gerry Mulligan and Lena Horne established his career.

He recorded his first album as leader in 1955 with George Duvivier (double bass) and Howard Roberts (jazz guitar) for Pacific Jazz. In same year Hamilton formed an unusual quintet in L.A. featuring cello, flute/saxes/clarinet, guitar, bass and drums. The quintet has been described as one of the last important West Coast jazz bands.

The original personnel included flutist/saxophonist/clarinetist Buddy Collette, guitarist Jim Hall, cellist Fred Katz and bassist Jim Aton, who was later replaced by Carson Smith. Hamilton continued to tour, using different personnel, from 1957 to 1960. A version of the quintet including flutist Paul Horn was featured in the film Sweet Smell of Success in 1957 and one including Eric Dolphy appeared in the film Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1960), set at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.

Hamilton revamped his group in 1961 with Charles Lloyd, Gabor Szabo, George Bohanon and Albert Stinson, playing what has been described as chamber jazz, with “a moderate avant-gardism.” The group recorded for Columbia, Reprise and Impulse Records and also recorded the soundtrack for the industrial film Litho in 1962, the first American film to be shown behind the Iron Curtain. Hamilton formed a commercial and film production company in 1965, and went on to score the feature films Repulsion (1965), Mr. Ricco(1975), Coonskin (1975), By Design (1982), the television programs Portrait of Willie Mays and Gerald McBoing Boing, and scored hundreds of commercials for TV and radio.

In 1996 Hamilton formed his sextet Chico Hamilton and the Young Alto’s featuring Kenneth Lampl, Eric Person and Marc Bernstein. The group performed at the 1986 JVC Jazz Festival, the Apollo Theater, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

–Wikipedia

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