The trumpeter Linley Hamilton been an important figure within jazz in Ireland and the UK for many years. As a musician he is at the top of the list when it comes to looking for a horn player for a recording or live performance. He has appeared on records by Paul Brady, Jacqui Dankworth and Foy Vance to name a few. 

Now he has brought forward possibly the finest jazz album recorded in Ireland for decades. 'Making Other Arrangements' is a unique collaboration between Hamilton, the musician/leader and Cian Boylan, the producer/arranger. It is a collection of compositions from the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Abdullah Ibrahim, Freddie Hubbard, James Taylor and Michel Legrand. It features a full string ensemble, woodwind and rhythm section. The result is a masterful album with wonderful individual performances created with cascades of sounds that will captivate and delight the listener. 

For this project Hamilton and Boylan pulled together some of the leading voices in Irish jazz including Nigel Clark on guitar, Ben Castle on saxophone, Dana Masters on vocals, Dave Redmond on bass and Guy Rickerby on drums.

Date: 2018-03-18
Author: Colin H
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Colin H on Linley Hamilton

Of all the great characters I’ve met in the music game, trumpeter Linley Hamilton is among the greatest – and one of the funniest. A master of shaggy-dog stories and witty remarks, a brilliant onstage raconteur and entertainer, and a man always ready to help fellow musicians in any way possible. He’s also among the greatest musicians I’ve met. For many years, Linley himself might have replied, ‘You don’t get out much, then?’ – his own harshest critic. Recently, though, it seems to me that he’s become more assured about the quality of his own playing – and very definitely an artist deserving to be heard around the world. If I was to boil Linley’s story down to one sentence, the mid-90s Belfast bar-band hustler became a mid-2010s international jazzman, regional BBC personality (with a weekly jazz show on Radio Ulster), session man supremo, Irish jazz facilitator, music college tutor and inspiration… and still a bit of a bar-band hustler and casual comedy king.

No doubt all local musical scenes have individuals within them who are characters, scenesters, larger-than-life people who make things happen and get talked about. Linley was certainly one such in Belfast in the 90s. There were always stories. Indeed, I recall one of his associates once telling me, ‘Even people who’ve never met Linley have stories about him…’ For some people, remaining a local ‘character’, until it becomes a caricature, is the sum total of their achievements, but Linley Hamilton has managed to negotiate the ups and downs of years as a jobbing musician in a relative backwater, while creating a lot of fun in the process, to become a European-level touring musician and create a small but superb body of recorded work under his own name and to earn the respect and affection of musicians of all genres, but most especially jazz, up and down Ireland. He is someone who simply makes things happen and, if you book him on one of your gigs or one of your records, he is someone who makes it better. And you’ll have a good laugh with him being around as well.

Date: 2019-01-01
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Making Other Arrangements has been a long time coming—over 25 years, since trumpeter and broadcaster Linley Hamilton first heard Freddie Hubbard's Ride Like The Wind and decided that one day he, too, would make an album with a large ensemble. It's been worth the wait. Hamilton's third album as leader is lush, romantic and beautifully performed. Based in Belfast, Hamilton is an important figure on the jazz scene of the island of Ireland, as a musician, lecturer and BBC radio broadcaster. Large ensembles are difficult to organise these days, for economic reasons if not logistics, but Hamilton has managed it, drawing together 20 musicians including American vocalist Dana Masters (now living in Northern Ireland) and a 12-piece string section.

Arranger and keyboard player Cian Boylan makes the most of this genuinely large ensemble, balancing out the contributions from the string section and the other instruments and creating showcases for soloists including Hamilton himself. Twelve players in the string section—13 when bassist David Redmond is included—could have ended up dominating the sound, but Boylan ensures this doesn't happen. His arrangements enable the string players to add a richness to the sound or to heighten the drama (on "Here's To Life," for example). Hubbard's "Brigitte" is one of the album's standout tracks, centering on Hamilton's controlled yet affecting performance which is set into sharp relief by Boylan's understated arrangement.

Boylan makes the most of the strings for "After The Love Has Gone," moving the Earth, Wind & Fire '70s hit a few decades back to create a richly seductive performance that would fit neatly into a Fred Astaire movie. There are lovely touches to be found across the 10 tracks, including Boylan's piano on James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" and some excellent solos from Ben Castle and Brendan Doyle. Masters sings on "Louisiana Sunday Afternoon"—a fine, soulful, performance that leads one to wonder what she might have added to songs like "Here's To Life" or "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight." Maybe next time...

Date: 2018-04-08
Author: Ian Patterson
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With albums like Taylor Made (Lyte Records, 2011) and In Transition (Lyte Records, 2014), trumpeter Linley Hamilton established himself as a virtuoso and bandleader of some note, surrounding himself with Ireland's finest established players while nurturing the island's best of the up-and-coming talent. With Making Other Arrangements (Teddy D Records, 2018) Hamilton enlists an eighteen-piece band featuring the strings of the twelve-piece Camden Orchestra on a set of classic tunes straddling the worlds of jazz, cinema and popular song. Employing strings marks the realization of a long-standing ambition, ever since Hamilton first heard Freddie Hubbard's Ride Like the Wind (Elektra/Musician, 1982) twenty five years ago. The results are performances of warmth and soul where the smallest details say as much about the love invested in this project as the excellent playing of the ensemble in full voice. 

Strings provide a velveteen cushion for emotive solos by Hamilton, tenor saxophonist Brendan Doyle and alto saxophonist Ben Castle on the two contrasting ballads that open the album—Artie Butler's meltingly beautiful "Here's to Life," which became a signature tune for Shirley Horn—and Freddie Hubbard's two-geared "Brigitte." As Hamilton acknowledged in a 2014 interview with All About Jazz, Hubbard was a seminal influence, although if anything the Irish trumpeter's playing here is more aligned with Wynton Marsalis, particularly the mellow Marsalis of the Standard Time... albums. 

As fine a balladeer as any, Hamilton also possesses tremendous technical chops, though with rare exception this is an album less of pyrotechnic displays and more one of deep emotional connection to cherished songs. The trumpeter's uplifting tone on James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," his bluesy lyricism on David Foster's "After the Love Has Gone"—with a Gershwins-esque string arrangement from pianist Cian Boylan—and his passionate yet caressing interpretation of Abdullah Ibrahim's classic "Joan Capetown Flower" exemplify Hamilton's natural melodicism and his preference for heartfelt narrative over technical show. 

However, it's the ensemble voice—with or without strings—that makes for the album's success. Bassist David Redmond, drummer Guy Rickarby and Boylan provide a solid rhythmic bass, Nigel Clarke adds sparkling cameos on acoustic and electric guitar, while Doyle and Castle's every intervention injects brio. South Carolina-born, Lisburn-based R&B singer Dana Masters brings a helping of southern soul to Frank Golde/Peter Ivers' "Louisiana Sunday Afternoon," her powerful performance buoyed by strings, shimmering Hammond organ and vibrant jazz accompaniment. More of Master—who sings regularly with Van Morrison—would have been nice, but that, perhaps, is a whole other album. 

Ivan Lins "Love Dance" and Michel Legrand's "What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life" bring out the romantic in Hamilton—and some of his most persuasive playing—while Maggie Doyle's "Carmel" rounds out the album in style, this cheery tune with strings and percolating percussing evoking 1960s Burt Bacharach. 

Cian Boylan's savvy arrangements of these classic tunes is an important piece of the equation, setting up a platform for first-rate performances from all the musicians. Hamilton, however, is the driving force. As a bandleader and soloist par excellence Hamilton stamps his personality on every tune, making Making Other Arrangements a highpoint in his career. It's a beautifully crafted recording that should appeal to all those who appreciate a fine melody sincerely delivered.