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Scott Hamilton & the Jeff Hamilton Trio, 'Live In Bern,' Capri Records (REVIEW)

By Mike Greenblatt m.greenblatt@classicalite.com on Oct 27, 2015 08:58 PM EDT

A week after they performed together at the International JazzFestival Bern in Switzerland, longtime tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton joined drummer Jeff Hamilton (no relation) and his trio for a live studio quartet recording in front of a lucky few. Live In Bern (Capri Records) consists of "American Songbook" staples, ballads, jazz classics and Jeff's "Sybille's Day" original. As such, it revitalizes the long-injured and still bleeding jazz sub-genre known as swing.

Jeff is a drummer's drummer who continues to display the kind of subtlety on the brushes that's as much a dying art as bunting in Major League Baseball. His touch is so light and fleeting, it moves the music forward like they are on gossamer wings. If you listen closely to such magical balladry as Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes" and Billy Strayhorn's "Ballad For Very Tired and Very Sad Lotus Eaters," you can pinpoint Jeff's aplomb when it comes to slicing time into micro-second fragments.

Cole Porter's "All Through The Night," Michel Legrand's "Watch What Happens," Richard Rodgers' "This Can't Be Love," Benny Carter's "Key Largo," Dizzy Gillespie's "Woody 'n You," Arthur Schwartz's "You and the Night and the Music" and Harry Edison's closing "Centerpiece" are perfect examples of the art of the swing. Yeah, prior to bebop, you could dance to jazz. Seems quaint now. In fact, I dare say, with the bebop, new traditionalist post-bop, much maligned but still vital fusion and even now all sorts of esoteric world musics entering the jazz discussion, swing is almost seen as backwater these days. Not so.

In keeping swing alive, and not just some historical curiosity gathering dust on a museum rack, these Hamiltons, in their 40+ years apiece, having never recorded together, fit like a glove. Pianist Tamir Hendelman and bassist Christoph Luty fill in the spaces. The result may be seen as retro, but it's certainly timeless.

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TagsJeff Hamilton, Scott Hamilton, REVIEW, Capri Records

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