Linley Hamilton – Making Other Arrangements

(Teddy D Records. CD Review by Lauren Bush)

This album has been in the making for at least four years since this Northern Irelander’s last release, In Transition in 2014, but for Linley Hamilton it seems as though this collection of arrangements has been developing for much longer. Inspired by Freddie Hubbard’s large ensemble on Ride Like the Wind, his new album is a concoction of tunes that have been arranged for woodwinds, strings and a rhythm section – with Hamilton’s melodic trumpet line at the forefront.

Cian Boylan, whose arrangements have fulfilled Hamilton’s dream, begin on Here’s to Life. The lyrics are left out only to be replaced by the emotionally charged trumpet line, weaving seamlessly with the strings.

Track two nods its head to Hubbard as inspiration with Brigitte. Its classic '80s backbeat’s still there but with a bit of a modern twist and a brilliant solo that connects all the dots from inception to completion.

The sheer variety of music on this album has something for everyone; as we navigate past bebop tradition through a James Taylor staple Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight (with a wicked bass groove) and into Earth, Wind and Fire's classic After the Love Has Gone with a beautiful string treatment that makes it almost unrecognisable. Again, Hamilton’s solo has an ethereal quality that conveys the vocal line perfectly.

It’s obvious that Hamilton is attracted to a good beat, and including some of his trumpet heroes’ songs is no surprise. Dizzy’s tune Con Alma has a similar Latin feel as Brigitte did with solos from  the leader and both sax players Brendan Doyle and Ben Castle weaving through. Continuing on is a rousing rendition of Joan Capetown Flower by Abdullah Ibrahim, with an almost "take me to church" feel, the rhythm section in full sync here as they shift onto another Latin inspiration: Ivan LinsLove Dance.

On Louisiana Sunday Afternoon, Hamilton is joined by American singer Dana Masters. The two are good friends and the trumpeter has stepped back to let Dana shine – it momentarily feels like her stage until his solo, where he is beautifully featured over top of a bed of strings – the whole collaboration is showcased so exquisitely.

Another fabulous bass line from Dave Redmond allows for a growly, sensual rendition of Michel Legrand’s What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?before we are brought home to the warmest, most sincere ending to this fabulous project. Carmel wraps up the whole album, as though walking down a summer street with three scoops of ice-cream in hand. Again, the whole ensemble builds in, one step at a time, enveloping Hamilton’s trumpet in a happy mood comparable to a cheery Beatles tune.

Hamilton’s vision combined with Boylan’s arrangements match each style with an exciting new take and just the right amount of nostalgia for the songs we know so well. What an amazing tapestry of music to showcase this trumpet maestro. It was a pure pleasure to listen to.