This Project has been a dream of mine for my entire musical career. Since the first time, around twenty-five years ago, that I first heard Freddie Hubbard’s album ‘Ride Like the Wind’, it has been my ambition to record an album with large ensemble…rhythm section, woodwind and strings. In many ways, everything I have done up to now…the music I have played, listened to, the way I have developed as a jazz musician, the people I have played with has all led to this point.
Over the years I have made countless connections across the island. In 2008, I enrolled for a Masters in Jazz Performance at DIT in Dublin, and on the first day made a special connection with pianist and arranger, Cian Boylan. Cian was like me…he loved jazz but was open to all music, played with Singer Songwriters and rock bands and had an ear for the overall sound. We started an alliance that saw us do many smaller projects together and so a friendship was made. Of course music is all about friendships, and this project has given me the chance to reconnect with two musicians who I admire so much; drummer Guy Rickarby and saxophonist Brendan Doyle, two former Musical Directors of Riverdance: incredible readers and improvisers. The other saxophonist, Ben Castle was a friend of mine from the old days before he ever thought of settling in Ireland and had stayed at my house during a short Irish tour I helped him put together. Bassist Dave Redmond and I have played and recorded together countless times and we share a similar style of humour which has made the work pass quickly and the connection grow stronger. That really just leaves guitarist Nigel Clarke who followed his heart from Scotland to Dublin and has made such an impact since he arrived. A lover of melody and an amazing musician who knows just when to play and what to say when he does play. In many ways then, the band picked itself. The personalities I wanted formed in my head very quickly…everyone was the obvious choice for the gig…a rock-solid reading and jazzing rhythm section enhanced by Ben and Bren, the Saxophone men!
As a Jazz Radio presenter, I have received nearly three thousand albums over the last ten years; solo records, piano trios, quartets, vocalists, jazz orchestras, melodious to avant-garde, made up of standards, jazz originals and new music from every continent. You get to hear some amazing music, some amazing songs…and so when the time was right for me to do this, I had a really good idea of songs that I thought would work…songs that had a big effect on me through the emotional connection I had from listening countless times and forming a relationship with them. These songs would make me smile, make me passionate, make me change the way I would feel, or even think. The way I wanted to present them in my style came to me quite quickly, but the magic was supplied by arranger Cian Boylan. He took his time to understand the way I felt about the songs, about the musicians I wanted to use, and the way I wanted to interpret them, and yes, I think it is magic how he perceived my interpretation and delivered it on paper. I could not dream that the arrangements would have turned out the way they did, that this guy had got inside my head and articulated my heart, but he did.
When it came to the studio, it was all done and dusted in four days. There was an incredible feeling of support and a desire for everyone to give of their best. Musicians were happy for each other. One of the key factors was engineer and co-producer Conor Brady. For anyone who knows Conor, you will know what I mean when I say that he has a spiritual approach to music. He loves it and is a servant to it. He cares for the musicians and he goes out of his way to reassure them, reinforce them and make sure they deliver for the song. He is trusted by everyone to make the right decision and someone like that obviously has an incredible impact on the overall project.
American vocalist Dana Masters, now living in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, sang the only vocal on the album and wow, it makes the hair stand on the back of my neck. She has been a huge part of my life since we first me in 2013 and it is such an honour to have her sing on the record.
That just leaves the strings, under the leadership of Ken Rice. One day in the studio, cases lying everywhere, chattering, manuscripts handed around, intense episodes of focus, lots of smiles and healthy takeaway lunches, all contributing to what is surely the most emotional day of my musical career, playing on a bed of twelve amazing string players who arrived and left after what may have been just another day in the studio for them, but for me, was a life enriching experience that I will never forget.
And so we have it…Linley Hamilton ’Making other Arrangements’…an album that sums up everything I love about music, and involves some of the most important people in my life. I hope you experience some of the love that went into the making of it and that it touches your heart…