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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 Records 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

  9. Woody 'n You

  10. The Champ

  11. Ballad For Very Tired And Very Sad Lotus Eaters

  12. You And The Night And The Music

  13. Centerpiece

Scott Hamilton - Tenor sax

Jeff Hamilton - Drums

Tamir Hendelman - Piano

Christoph Luty - Bass

Scott Hamilton was once dubbed 'The Mainstream Messiah', admittedly by his record company of the time as part of their promotion of his discs. He could equally have been described as 'The Saviour of Swing' since he stands in that distinguished line of pre-bop, mainstream, tenor saxophonists who so illuminated the jazz scene in the 1930s, early 1940s and beyond. I'm talking about giants such as Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young and Ben Webster. Scott Hamilton has continued to tend the sacred flame since his initial emergence in the late 1970s. It isn't that Hamilton is stuck in a time warp. He has continued to develop without ever forsaking his roots and he remains a joy to listen to.

On this CD, he is joined by another practitioner of the jazz arts who shares the same surname. Jeff Hamilton is a vastly experienced drummer and leader, known for his work with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and with his own trio, as well as possessing a reputation as one of the best sidemen in the business. Given that they belong to the same generation, it is something of an anomaly that they have not recorded together more, though I did track down a session when Scott was with Concord Records where they were in the studio in each other's company. The occasion of the recording of Live In Bern, however, was the International Jazzfestival in that city. Having discovered an ideal venue during the festival, namely Marians Jazzroom, the musicians returned a week later to record. The title is misleading as no audience was present. The other members of Jeff Hamilton's trio, Israeli-born pianist Tamir Hendelman and bassist Christoph Luty are also there, though, to provide quality support. Both of these are part of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, as well as the trio, so have shared a lengthy partnership with Jeff.

Four tracks on the album were especially pleasing. Watch What Happens is a familiar tune by Michel Legrand and is a delight, Scott fluidly weaving his way in and out of the melody and Hendelman swinging along in relaxed fashion. Incidentally, there's an excellent drum intro on this one, too. Sybille's Day is a Jeff Hamilton original and is an enjoyable romp for all concerned, blessed by a catchy theme. You And The Night And The Music illustrates how to perform a well-worn standard and give it a new lease of life. It's a team effort but I must mention Luty's bass playing, alongside the predictably engrossing Scott Hamilton. Centerpiece is a memorable Harry Edison composition and makes for a collective triumph yet again.

The rest of the disc contains several other tunes by jazz musicians, including a smoochy version of Benny Carter's Key Largo. Then there's Dizzy Gillespie's Woody 'n You where Luty contributes a probing bass solo, Hendelman plays his socks off and Scott, as ever, does full justice to a jazz classic. British composer Alan Hawkshaw also gets a look in with The Champ which receives a fast bopish treatment. Aficionados of the ballad will appreciate the moody Soul Eyes in addition to an appropriately languid Billy Strayhorn offering, Ballad For Very Tired And Very Sad Lotus Eaters. Among the remaining standards, This Can't Be Love has a peach of a performance from Scott Hamilton, aided and abetted by this classy rhythm section. Jeff Hamilton is immaculate, as elsewhere on the disc.

It was a distinct pleasure to listen to this album because of the sheer quality of the musicians and of the selection of material. If you like your jazz smooth but imbued with soul, I suspect you will feel the same.

James Poore

And another review...

Reviewed as streamed from Qobuz.

I donít often venture outside the classical sphere in reviewing for MusicWeb-International and when I do recommend a jazz recording itís usually the tried and tested, though occasionally I branch out to make a Ďdiscoveryí as a tailpiece to my regular Download News column.

In a sense this album is a discovery since it represents the first time that Scott Hamilton has come together with the Jeff Hamilton Trio, though they have recorded for the same label. The recording arose from a live session together at Marians Jazzroom in Bern, though itís something of a misnomer to include the word Ďliveí in the title: I understand that the recording sessions took place several days after the live concert.

Thereís nothing adventurous about the music: itís all straight and easy and thatís the way that I like it Ė ideal for last night listening as a change from the likes of Late Night Brubeck. (If that were an LP Iíd have worn it out, the number of times that my wife asks to play it.)

The programme is all from old favourite composers apart from Jeff Hamiltonís own Sybilleís Day and thatís pretty straight and easy, too Ė and very enjoyable. Itís all the kind of music that the sax was made for and I canít imagine it being played any better. Scott Hamilton is a most accomplished player and heís very well supported here all round. As Tony Augarde aptly put it in reviewing another Scott Hamilton recording, he has perfected the art of playing with the emphasis on melody and beauty of sound Ė review Ė and thatís just right for me. If I have to nominate a favourite number, I recommend that you try to sample Billy Strayhornís Ballad for very tired and very sad Lotus Eaters (track 11).

The last thing that I want to suggest is that this album is predictable but you wonít find anything here to shake you to your foundations. One of the other offerings for review this month was the latest album from Sun-Ra: A joyful Noise. Sorry, thatís not for me. Nor, I have to say, is the very successful and critically hailed series of recordings which Jan Garbarek made with the Hilliard Ensemble for ECM, with solo sax winding its mournful way through renaissance vocal music and folk music (Officium, Officium Novum Ė review Ė and Mnemosyme). Itís very beautiful but it leaves me feeling depressed whereas this new recording leaves me with a feeling of enjoyment and content.

The recording is good Ė close but not too close. The streamed version to which I listened, and even its download equivalent, come without the booklet, so I canít comment on that: the details that Iíve given were all gleaned online. Even without the booklet, I shall be listening to this album quite often.

Brian Wilson

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