Belfast trumpeter Linley Hamilton realised a long-held ambition in 2019 when he put together this new quintet featuring two heavyweights of US jazz: Mark Egan, who rose to fame as the bassist with the original Pat Metheny group; and Adam Nussbaum, one of the most respected drummers of his generation who has played with Michael Brecker and John Abercrombie.
The trumpeter taught alongside the two Americans at the Sligo Jazz Project where the seeds of this starry collaboration were sown, but the most important relationship on For The Record – a set of mostly old-school hard bop originals – is the one between Hamilton and his old friend, Dublin saxophonist Derek O'Connor.
Best known for his role with the Late Late Show band and sadly under-recorded in a jazz context, O’Connor is a forceful tenorist in the Brecker tradition and the perfect foil for Hamilton’s burnished tone and bright melodic sense.
Pianist Cian Boylan, another important relationship for the leader, provides the lion's share of the compositions, some co-written with Hamilton, including the album's stand out, Holly's Moment, a delightful upbeat groover dedicated to O'Connor's baby daughter, with heartfelt solos from saxophone and trumpet and a typically muscular groove from the two visitors.
To these ears, the presence of the two US luminaries makes the Irish musicians play things a little safe at times but For the Record is nonetheless enjoyable proof that the hard-bop flame is still burning brightly in the 21st century.