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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Live in Bern

Capri 74139-2



1. September In The Rain

2. All Through The Night

3. Watch What Happens

4. Soul Eyes

5. This Can't Be Love

6. There'll Be Some Changes Made

7. Sybille's Day

8. Key Largo

8. Woody 'n You

9. The Champ

10. Ballad For Very Tired and Very Sad Lotus Eaters

11. You and the Night and the Music

12. Centerpiece

Scott Hamilton - Tenor sax

Jeff Hamilton - Drums

Tamir Hendelman – Piano

Christof Luty – Bass

The title gives the impression that this album was recorded before an audience in the city of Bern, but no audience reaction or applause can be heard on the recording. In fact Jeff Hamilton’s trio plus Scott Hamilton (the two Hamiltons are not related) had played the week before in the same venue (Marians Jazzroom) as part of the International Jazzfestival Bern, and that is where they recorded. It’s not exactly a “live” CD but that is my only quibble about this magnificent album.

Scott Hamilton is one of the smoothest tenorists in existence – indeed, his playing can very occasionally slip towards the genre of smooth jazz (although, even then, his inventions make him well worth hearing). However, drummer Jeff Hamilton ensures that most of this session avoids the “smooth jazz” category. His potent drumming keeps most of the tracks on the boil, only letting up for the occasional ballad. The session gains added interest from the obvious care that the group has taken to structure the tunes in varied ways.

Thus the opening September in the Rain starts with just saxophone and drums for eight bars before the bass enters, with the piano following on shortly after. The easy swing of this track is typical of the beat which pervades the album, seldom allowing one’s feet to stop tapping. The rhythm is assisted by the fact that you can actually hear the drums – which is not always possible even in modern recordings. Jeff Hamilton is one of our finest drummers who often comes to the forefront but, even when he is in the background, you can hear his brushes coaxing the rhythm along. His brushwork can even be assertive, as in the fours he swaps with Scott on There’ll Be Some Changes Made. And I guess that’s his voice which occasionally shouts appreciation of Scott’s solos.

Sybille’s Day is a Jeff Hamilton original – a blues thrust along by Jeff’s shuffle beat. It pushes Scott to be more funky than usual. The same thing happens in The Champ, once a popular tune but seldom heard today. Its infectious swing carries the listener along on a joyous wave. Jeff’s impeccable drum breaks are fiery.

Let’s not forget the remaining members of the quartet: sturdy bassist Christof Luty and brilliant pianist Tamir Hendelman. Tamir contributes some sparkling solos, and adds to the atmosphere in such ballads as Mal Waldron’s Soul Eyes and Billy Strayhorn’s Ballad For Very Tired and Very Sad Lotus Eaters. Scott Hamilton’s solos are always shapely and well integrated, on these ballads as well as on faster numbers. They are not just strings of notes, which seems to be the style of some modern saxists.

This is a marvellous album, clearly recorded. I am going to keep it, and play it again often.

Tony Augarde

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