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Scott Hamilton: Blues, Bop & Ballads

Jim Santella By

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Adopting a smooth Ben Webster approach to the tenor saxophone in this era of fire and screaming creativity, Scott Hamilton has for over twenty years satisfied our yen for beauty of tone without sacrificing meaningful dialogue. Consider some of the pap elevator music that oozes from the radio airwaves these days and just how much of your attention is captured by it. Not much. Then consider your more left-wing approach that grates the listener with harsh squawks and squeals intended to arouse the senses. Hamilton will have none of this. His conservative performances remain as beautiful works of art, created with the listener in mind who isn’t afraid to admit that he enjoys good old-fashioned jazz and hasn’t yet tired of that tried-and-true formula.

Working with a quartet on the ballads "Skylark" and "Answer Me," Hamilton expresses lyrical expression in his trademark vocal style. Elsewhere, the saxophonist adds horns and guitar in different combinations for rhythmic variety, and for a look at the jazz quintet approach that has woven itself firmly into the history of modern jazz. Trombonist Joel Helleny makes quite an impression with creative solo work on three selections, while bop trumpeter Greg Gisbert provides a bright tone and fresh approach elsewhere. His presence is particularly impressive on Coleman Hawkins’ "Stuffy," where the trumpeter runs up-tempo and bounces through his instrument’s full range with fresh ideas. Norman Simmons and Duke Robillard provide confidence and a laid-back ease that winds naturally through the program, particularly on Ike Quebec’s "Blue Harlem." Highly recommended, Hamilton’s latest album (his 36th for Concord) defines its title clearly and evokes nothing but beautiful art.

Track Listing: I Mean You; Blue Harlem; Rhythm Riff #127; Skylark; Wabash; Fish Market; Answer Me (My Love); Stuffy; Smile; Good Bait.Collective

Personnel: Scott Hamilton- tenor saxophone; Greg Gisbert- trumpet; Joel Helleny- trombone; Duke Robillard- guitar; Norman Simmons- piano; Dennis Irwin- bass; Chuck Riggs- drums.

Title: Blues, Bop & Ballads | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Concord Music Group

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