Scott Hamilton – Classics
Scott Hamilton and a swinging rhythm section deliver a delightful and creative program of well-known themes from the classical repertoire – reimagined and repurposed for jazz quartet.
Scott Hamilton (born September 12th, 1954) needs no introduction. The celebrated American tenor icon is instantly recognizable with his timeless sound, impeccable taste, and flawless decision-making. That perfect storm of ingredients is no happy accident – it’s all been honed and refined over decades of bringing joy to the musicians he plays with, and the audiences he plays for.
Hamilton’s sound – equal parts breathy fog and meaty girth – harkens back to another era while remaining relevant and refreshing. He’s calmed and collected in his musical choices, like Ben Webster or Zoot Sims at the height of their prowess. His warm, lush tonal language breathes new creative life into themes most people have only heard in their original classical contexts.
Observed from afar, his celebrated career, spanning decades, is beyond rare… It’s bordering on the stuff of legend. His playing is at the same time familiar and fascinatingly fresh, and his approach and musicianship are respected and treasured by generations of open ears. On this new album, he and an impossibly swinging rhythm section borrow themes from the classical repertoire – themes many listeners will recognize – and approach them from a new perspective, as a jazz quartet.
The history of jazz-meets-classical music is rich and nearly as old as Jazz music, itself. It’s appeared in almost every variation imaginable – turned backward, sideways, and upside-down. More often than not, it involves some combination of jazz soloist (and rhythm section) performing jazz material that’s been rearranged to include strings or symphonic instrumental accompaniment.
But as any creator or fan of music knows that there’s always another way! The classical material the group has selected for this session has been so tastefully renovated (and cleverly retitled) that it might fool even advanced jazz listeners into thinking they’ve somehow missed a couple of timeless standards. Some are easy to “decode” (My Reverie, based on Claude Debussy’s ‘Reverie’), while others are delightfully playful in their rebranding: Moon Love (based on Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony) and Humoresque (Antonin Dvorak). Scott and his team have incorporated the material into the spirit of jazz so elegantly that the other titles might as well be from Broadway shows: I Think of You, The Lamp Is Low, If You Are But A Dream, and Yours Is My Heart Alone.
He and his rhythm group – made up here of Jan Lundgren on piano, Hans Backenroth on bass, and Kristian Leth on drums – forge ahead in tandem, with a masterful demonstration of space and dynamics. The vision they all share is clear, the playing is clean, the production is both warm and crisp, and the whole concept is wonderfully creative.
Over time, artists get to know their audience and their expectations. The ability to give people what they want while gently stretching their perspectives and perceptions should be the goal of all artists. Scott Hamilton and his quartet manage to do just that on their new album, and one has to believe that some of the creators of the source material would be tickled to hear this take on it today!
I Think of You / The Lamp is Low / If You Are but a Dream / Theme from Swan Lake / My Reverie / Yours is My Heart Alone / Moon Love / Humoresque / Skymning.
Scott Hamilton (ts), Jan Lundgren (p), Hans Backenroth (b), Kristian Leth (d).
CD: STUCD 22032, LP: STULP 22021, Scott Hamilton, Classics, Stunt Records, Sundance Music ApS.
Stunt Records STUCD22032 / 663993220321 / Vertrieb: The Orchard / in-akustik
CD / Digital VÖ: 29.4.2022
STULP22031 / 663993220314
LP VÖ: 27.5.2022