2 excellent albums by Chico Hamilton – both recorded during the period he was working with Eric Dolphy
! Three Faces Of Chico is a gimmicky set, but a great one – and one of his most compelling records of the 50s! The three "faces" of Chico are as follows: his vocals, his solo percussion, and his quintet. Forget the vocals, because they're just OK (and Chico hardly embarked on a singing career after this one) – and focus on the percussion and quintet sides, because they're totally amazing! The percussion tracks have Chico playing solo, with a really haunting sound to them. There's not a lot of tricks, or pyrotechnics, and his work in this respect almost points the way to later recordings by Andrew Cyrille. The quintet sides are great, too – as this is the point at which Chico's got Eric Dolphy
and Dennis Budimir in the group, both of whom draw a good edge on Chico's popular sound of a few years previous. Titles include "No Speak No English Man", "Miss Movement", "Trinkets", "Happy Little Dance", and "Newport News". Gongs East is quite possibly the best album to feature the talents of Chico Hamilton and Eric Dolphy
– a set recorded at a time when Dolphy
was an up-and-coming player on the west coast scene! 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".