Scheduled to play at the International Jazz Festival in the city of Bern, Switzerland in 2014, festival founder Hans Zurbrugg asked drummer Jeff Hamilton to bring his trio as the center-piece of the festivities that week. Also there the same week was saxophonist great Scott Hamilton adding another master of the jazz idiom to the lineup of jazz stars. Interestingly enough, the two Hamilton's had never recorded together and as fortune would have it, the saxophonist was not under a current contract with any label. Thomas Burns, President of the Capri Records label, seized on the opportunity to pair the two giants of jazz and document their very first recording together.
Accordingly, Live In Bern captures a formidable new quartet, with the saxophonist joining the Jeff Hamilton trio with Tamir Hendelman on piano and Christoph Luty on bass, as they swing through The Great American Songbook playing familiar standards with a measure of swagger and style. Though presented as a "live" recording, the album was actually recorded in a compact session at the Marians Jazz room and you will not hear the typical audience response after each track resulting in a more of a studio gig. Nevertheless, it's the performance and the music that truly counts and here, everything is first rate.
On tap, an array of oft-recorded classics that make the date memorable beginning with Dubin/Warren piece "September In The Rain" followed by Cole Porter's delicious "All Through the Night" and then, a quick-paced version of the Michel Legrand standard "Watch What Happens" with both Hamilton's weighing in on pronounced and splendid solo moments. The group goes real mellow on Mal Waldron's beautiful "Soul Eyes."
Benny Carter's immortal "Key Largo" churns slowly but gracefully and is one of the outstanding tunes of the set. The rumbling drums of the co-leader kicks off a rousing rendition of Dizzy Gillespie's iconic "Woody 'n You" as the band continues performing magical tunes like "Ballad for Very Tired and Very Sad Lotus Eaters," and the classic "You and the Night and The Music" featuring pianist Hendelman and the bassist in sparkling light. An all-round amazing performance from a phenomenal quartet that one would hope, will see the light of day for more gigs and recordings to come. If one prefers straight ahead bebop jazz at its best, Live in Bern will fit the bill quite nicely.
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.
Scott Hamilton: tenor saxophone; Tamir Hendelman: piano; Christof Luty: bass; Jeff Hamilton: drums.
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