Hollywood: January 4, 1965
John Anderson (tp); Lou Blackburn (tb); Henry Sigismonti (fhr); Bill Green (f,pic); Harold Land (ts); Gabor Szabo (g); Albert Stinson (b); Chico Hamilton (d).
New York City: March 15, 1965
While a rather tepid transition in Hamilton's recording career, CHIC CHIC CHICO is clearly a showcase for Gabor Szabo's formidable talents. Szabo's playing throughout is, as usual, notable; however the material weakens the overall impression. Land, a strong and talented West Coast tenor player, was a logical addition to the Hamilton group; yet he seems misplaced as a foil for Szabo.
The guitarist's four contributions to the Hamilton canon, his first since the definitive "Lady Gabor," strive toward a compositional and arranged outline rather than the sketches Szabo would perfect later in his career. More significantly, all four titles seem reasonably indebted to the clever Monk-like simplicity of Charles Lloyd's compositions.
"Corrida de Toros" (translates as 'bullfight') is, very much in the tradition of "Passin' Thru," a familiar Szabo/Lloyd theme. Szabo mixes his unique fingering techniques with a dramatic flair and pulls off the album's strongest overall performance. More carefully scripted is the unusually complicated barrage of "Tarantula." This busy number loudly pronounces itself as an exercise rather than a performance; intending, apparently, to prove Szabo's ability to "compose" a jazz piece. "Tarantula" is appreciable most in the sense that it sets up Szabo's lovely introductory performance of "What's New." The short, catchy "Swampy" is a two-part homage to Charles Lloyd and offers little room for improvisation.
"Fire Works" begins interestingly with a two-chord, minor-key blues pattern. Szabo's single-note improvisation here, unusual and harmonically challenging, establishes a looser improvisational formula Hamilton would later exploit on the more Latin-oriented EL CHICO album. Half way through the song, though, the horns enter obtrusively and it all ends in a cluttered, thoughtless mess. Significantly, Jimmy Woods is not present on these recordings.