Tom Hammel

Tom Hammel – Steelin’ Crazy Rhythm

Self released [2020]
Four Steps West – Out of Odessa – Tenderly – Cherry – Crazy Rhythm – Si Tu Vois Ma Mere – It’s All Your Fault – Mission to Moscow – When Sunny Gets Blue – What Is This Thing Called Love? – Steelin Home – Willow Weep for Me

Tom Hammel, the steel guitarist on Slim Sandy’s latest album, also released a solo album.
He gathered a set of stellar musicians, including Paul Pigat on guitar, Jeremy Holmes on upright bass, James Badger on drums, and icing on the cake, Canada’s sweetheart of Swing, the great Alex Pangman who sings Cindy Walker’s It’s All Your Fault. She already recorded this song for one of her solo albums, but this is a new version, with steel to the fore.
Besides this song, it’s an all-instrumental album.
It mixes jazz standards (King Cole’s When Sunny Gets Blue, Billie Holiday’s Willow Weep For Me) with western swing classics. Songs like Crazy Rhythm or Mission To Moscow, are not strictly speaking western swing tunes but have been popularized by Wills’ Tiffany Sessions.
The set is also really well built. Hammel alternates hot stuff on which he and Pigat trade licks like crazy with dreamy and reflective tunes (Tenderly) and mid-tempos (What Is This Thing Called Love) on which Hammel dialogues with himself, playing steel, guitar and accordion.
The arrangements are always innovative, like the accordion that echoes the steel on Sydney Bechet’s Si Tu Vois Ma mère.
It’s very well-produced and reminded me of the quality of Noel Boggs Quintet’s Magic Steel Guitar.
If you like albums like The Hot Guitars of Biller and Wakefield or Guitars in Perspective by John Munnerlyn and Lee Jeffriess, you can buy this one with confidence.
Grab a copy at https://tomhammel.bandcamp.com/releases

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