By Michael J. West | Published October 2019
Equal Time is a solid organ record—a straightforward hard-bop groover. What else could be expected from a summit of swinging drummer Jeff Hamilton, his guitarist protégé, Graham Dechter, and organist Akiko Tsuruga? The fun part is in the details here, and Equal Time distinguishes itself primarily through the juxtaposition of Akiko and Dechter’s styles.
The guitarist, who usually solos first, has a crystalline tone and favors crowded, run-on bebop lines. Akiko follows him with a gritty organ tone and segmented sets of discrete, lyrical phrases. The difference is most apparent on the album’s two bounciest numbers, Akiko’s “Osaka Samba” and the standard “I Remember You.” In both cases, the guitarist finds odd breathing spaces in his single-note lines, but prefers to let them power through, one idea bleeding into the next. Akiko isn’t short on ideas herself, but takes an economical approach, with short, freestanding phrases. But where’s Hamilton in all of this? He’s the constant, the unflagging swinger who provides cohesion. He takes two solos, pounding it out on “Orange Coals” and playing a tight brush melody on “Osaka Samba.” Otherwise, he has his say trading smart fours and eights on “I Remember You,” as well as the closing “This Could Be The Start Of Something Big.”
Equal Time: Mag’s Groove; Orange Coals; Osaka Samba; A Baptist Beat; Moment’s Notice; Lion’s Gate; I Remember You; This Could Be the Start Of Something Big. (46:20)
Personnel: Akiko Tsuruga, Hammond B-3 organ; Graham Dechter, guitar; Jeff Hamilton, drums.