Jimmy Hamilton spent 25 years of his life for Duke Ellington’s orchestra with his cool and bop toned clarinet playing.
Intermittently, he would pull out his tenor and blow like some R&B cat that was playing in some smoky dive. This 61 release (with friends like Clark Terry/fh, Britt Woodman/tb, Wendell Marshall/b, Mel Lewis-Earl Williams/dr, Tommy Flanagan/p) has Hamilton honkin his horn like a street corner musician on a pair of “Blues…” as well as bringing out the licorice stick for a dreamy “Dancing On The Ceiling.” This cat should’ve put out 20 more discs out like this when he had the chance!
Multi-reedman Jimmy Hamilton was for a quarter-century a mainstay of jazz's most important large ensemble, the Duke Ellington Orchestra. On clarinet, Hamilton (1917-1994) was a model of polished, cool style and substance, while his less often featured work on tenor saxophone allowed him to reveal funkier inclinations. The two LPs paired herein, a sextet and a quartet recorded two weeks apart in 1961 for Swingville (Prestige's mainstream offshoot), spotlight Hamilton on both horns. It's About Time! offers a host of tuneful, loose blues, some of whose titles indicate the participants' collective sense of humor ("Stupid But Not Crazy," "Nits and Wits"), while Can't Help Swinging balances four bluesy originals with an equal number of top-notch standards. The sextet finds Hamilton joined on the front line by fellow distinguished Ellingtonians Clark Terry and Britt Woodman, and both dates are graced by Tommy Flanagan's piano.
with Clark Terry, Britt Woodman, Tommy Flanagan, Wendell Marshall, Mel Lewis, Earl Williams