Scott Hamilton & Jeff Hamilton Trio: Live In Bern

Bruce Lindsay By

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Saxophone master Scott Hamilton and drum maestro Jeff Hamilton have over four decades of experience each in the world of mainstream, swinging, jazz. Despite those many years on the scene Live In Bern is their first release together. It's been a long wait, but it's been worth it.

Before the important discussion—about the music—a word about the band and the album title. This isn't an album by the "Scott Hamilton & Jeff Hamilton Trio"—to be accurate, it's Scott Hamilton with the Jeff Hamilton Trio. Neither, despite the title, does it sound like a live album. It was recorded in Bern—in Marians Jazzroom, during a single session lasting less than eight hours—but while the venue is certainly a club, there's no sense of an audience being present. So "as live" might tell it more like it is.

The sound quality is excellent, from bassist Christof Luty's lower register to Jeff Hamilton's hi-hat, with Scott Hamilton's tenor and Tamir Hendelman's piano coming across with exceptional clarity and warmth. So while the Hamilton brothers (no, they're not, only joking) get name-checked on the CD cover, pianist Hendelman and bassist Luty deserve honorable mentions for their own contributions, which do much to give the tunes a full, rich and above all swinging feel.

There are plenty of familiar standards here—the cool and relaxed swing of "September In The Rain," a slow and dreamy "Key Largo"—but there's also one or two lesser-known (or at least less frequently recorded) tunes. Billy Strayhorn's "Ballad For Very Tired And Very Sad Lotus Eaters" stands out in this exalted company, the melodic and evocative tenor sax floating over an understated accompaniment from the remaining players.

There's just one original number, Jeff Hamilton's "Sybille's Day": a joyful mid-tempo tune driven by the composer's shuffle beat. However, the mix of familiar and not-so-familiar old tunes never sounds tired or hackneyed. This is a wily quartet of musicians whose flair and vivacity jumps out of the speakers, ensuring that this collection of straight-ahead gems sparkles from start to finish.

Track Listing: September In The Rain; All Through The Night; Watch What Happens; Soul Eyes; This Can't Be Love; There'll Be Some Changes Made; Sybille's Day; Key Largo; Woody 'N You; The Champ; Ballad For Very Tired And Very Sad Lotus Eaters; You And The Night And The Music; Centerpiece.

Personnel: Scott Hamilton: tenor saxophone; Tamir Hendelman: piano; Christof Luty: bass; Jeff Hamilton: drums.

Title: Live In Bern | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Capri Records

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