A full-length document of the great late 50s stretch when a young Eric Dolphy was a member of Chico Hamilton's group! The 2CD set features three albums' worth of music, plus bonus tracks too – the first of which is Chico Hamilton Quintet With Strings Attached, one of the best records that Chico Hamilton cut during the 50s – and one that features Eric Dolphy, who was with Chico's group for a short while! The record's got the quintet (which also includes the excellent Dennis Budimir on guitar) fronting larger string arrangements by Fred Katz (no longer their cellist, but still a key force here) – and the approach is a great expansion on the earlier styles that Chico forged for Pacific Jazz
. The strings here are never sleepy, and instead have a dark and modern feel overall – similar to Ralph Burns' best work of the time, but a bit more restrained – and Eric Dolphy's reed work really keeps things interesting, with sharp-edged notes give most of the tracks a fair bit of depth. Titles include "Modes", "Strange", "Don's Delight", "Andante", "Fair Weather", "Something To Live For", and "Pottsville USA". Gong's East is next – quite possibly the best album to feature the talents of Chico Hamilton and Eric Dolphy! Although Chico Hamilton had recorded with unusual reed players before, Dolphy brings a depth of soul and spirit to this album that's missing from a lot of Chico's earlier work at the time – a style that still holds onto some of the measured qualities of the Pacific Jazz
work by the Hamilton group, yet which also opens up into some of the darker corners that Dolphy would explore more on his own recordings of the 60s. The group also features some great guitar by Dennis Budimir and cello by Nathan Gershman – but the real standout aspects of the set come from Dolphy's work on flute, alto, and bass clarinet. Titles include "Where I Live", "Passion Flower", "Tuesday At Two", "Nature by Emerson", "Far East", and "Good Grief, Dennis". Possibly the most amazing record here is The Hamilton Man – a rare date done for the smaller Sesac label, and one that features some especially freewheeling sounds! Dolphy's totally great on alto sax – very hard-burning and edgey, and captured with some of the darker tones that you'd hear on his Prestige albums, although a bit more in a Hamilton-rhythmed groove overall. Dennis Budimir's on the set on great guitar – often hitting lines at the same time as Eric – and titles include "Pretty Little Theme", "Little Lost Bear", "Theme For A Starlet", "Fat Mouth", "Truth", and "Opening". Last up are 3 more tunes from The Three Faces Of Chico – all the Dolphy tracks from that record, including "More Than You Know", "Miss Movement", and "Newport News".
(Out of print.)